Niagara County's welfare fraud investigation team produced repayments and cost avoidance totaling $574,665 in 2017, District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek announced Wednesday.
The Social Services Department's Program Integrity Unit looked into 1,420 referrals last year, leading to 86 arrests by the Sheriff's Office and 112 settlements under an "Alternatives to Prosecution" program. The DA's Office prosecuted 72 criminal cases of welfare fraud.
The county collected $68,532 in repayments from defendants in 2017, with many committed to pay more. The remainder of the savings total was calculated from money the county won't have to pay 184 people who have been disqualified from receiving benefits for periods of six months or more.
"We are blessed to have such a hard-working team here in Niagara County dedicated to protecting taxpayers' hard-earned money," Wojtaszek said.