Twelve more wealthy individuals in Lakewood, New Jersey have been charged with defrauding Medicaid and other government assistance programs by misrepresenting their incomes, prosecutors said Thursday, after seven couples were charged last week for gaming the system out of $2 million.
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The defendants have all been charged with theft by deception, misrepresenting their incomes to show levels low enough in order to qualify for public assistance programs including Medicaid, heating benefits and food stamps (SNAP).
“They’ve been given letters instructing them as to the time frame for appearing. All defendants are expected to respond no later than Tuesday of next week,” the Ocean County, New Jersey prosecutor’s office said in a statement to FOX Business.
The couples charged Thursday fraudulently amassed welfare benefits near $400,000, according to an analysis of data from the prosecutor’s office. One couple alone collected nearly $75,000 in unentitled benefits from Medicaid between 2011 and 2013.
Seven additional couples, including a Rabbi and his wife, were charged just last week with defrauding government assistance programs out of at least $2 million.
One of the couples allegedly received Medicaid benefits for multiple years despite their annual income of more than $1 million, the complaint said.
Throughout fiscal year 2016, New Jersey spent $14.5 billion on Medicaid, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Throughout the same time period, the country as a whole spent $553.4 billion on the health assistance program.
In another instance, a couple allegedly made $1.8 million through various business endeavors that they had listed under relatives’ names—yet received housing, food and health benefits. They ultimately defrauded the government out of $178,000. The max allowable gross monthly income for a family of five in the state to be eligible for SNAP assistance is $4,385—which amounts to about $52,600 per year.
The prosecutor’s office said Thursday the investigation is ongoing.