GENESEO — What Livingston County investigators are calling a crackdown on abuses in the social services system has resulted in the arrest of ten suspects, law enforcement officials announced Tuesday.
In January, a meeting was held at the Livingston County Department of Social Services where a strong commitment was made between the involved agencies, including Social Services, the sheriff's department and the Livingston County District Attorney's Office, to investigate and prosecute people allegedly misusing the welfare system, authorities said.
"The cases all revolve around some type of abuse of the welfare system varying from falsifying applications, to identity theft, to the theft of public assistance checks," Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty said in a news release. "The total dollar amount of over payments of these investigations is well over $12,000."
District Attorney Greg McCaffery and Department of Social Services Commissioner Diane Deane joined Dougherty in announcing the arrests.
Following an investigation, individuals arrested along with the charges announced Tuesday are:
- David W. Taylor, 59, of Geneseo, for second-degree criminal use of a public benefit card.
- Brenda K. West, 60, of Dansville, for third-degree identity theft.
Robert J. Hyde, 43, of Mt. Morris, for second-degree criminal use of a public benefit card.
Kathryn L. Smith, 57, of Mt. Morris, for third-degree identity theft.
James L. Sullivan, 50, of Nunda, for fourth-degree welfare fraud and fourth-degree grand larceny.
Timothy A. Diffenbacher, 53, of Mt. Morris, for petit larceny.
Julie E. Bennett, 37, of Geneseo, for fourth-degree welfare fraud and fourth-degree grand larceny.
Mellissa J. Johnson, 39, of Dansville, for fifth-degree welfare fraud and petit larceny.
Christine A. Veaunt, 33, of Dansville, for fourth-degree welfare fraud.
Mindy M. Rolfe, 25, of Dansville, for third-degree identity theft.
The Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorneys Office and the Department of Social Services will continue to aggressively investigate, arrest and prosecute those who are defrauding the taxpayers, Dougherty said.
If you have any information regarding welfare recipients fraudulently collecting welfare benefits, please call the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office at 585-243-7100.