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14 MORE FACE CHARGES OF WELFARE FRAUD

Another 14 persons were arrested on welfare fraud charges Tuesday, bringing to 29 the total number of welfare fraud arrests made over the past two days in a countywide crackdown on alleged welfare cheats.

On Tuesday, nine people were arrested in Niagara Falls and five in Lockport.

The arrests represent more than $65,000 in public assistance money and food stamps that have been applied for and illegally obtained, according complaints lodged in Niagara Falls and Lockport city courts and average per-case estimate made by area law enforcement officials. A specific figure was not available.

The total number of arrests is just short of the about 35 persons who already have been arrested on welfare fraud charges earlier this year, Niagara County Sheriff's Department Welfare Fraud Unit Chief Sheila Haley said. Those figures do not include nine persons arrested in January and February for allegedly purchasing food stamps on the black market, she said.

Ms. Haley, who directed the operation, said the crackdown was the result of three-months' planning and execution in concert with her unit and the sheriff's Warrant Services Unit, county Social Services Commissioner Bonita L. Quaranta, Assistant County District Attorney Karen E. Murray and the Niagara Falls and Lockport police departments.

Sheriff's Inspector Edward Stefik said the campaign to end welfare fraud will not end with Tuesday's arrests. "This is not a one-time deal. It will be a continuous thing," he said.

Stefik said he believed this was the first welfare fraud operation which involved planning and cooperation by so many agencies.

In all, 10 officers, deputies, detectives and investigators hit the streets over the past two days and made the arrests, Ms. Haley said.

Those arrested Tuesday in Niagara Falls on grand larceny, misuse of food stamps and offering a false instrument for filing charges are:

Phyllis F. Rodrigues, 34, of 542 10th St.; April M. Hollenbeck, 37, of 5530 Transit Road, Williamsville; Linda A. Caffey, 38, of 705 Ashland Ave.; Terry Gross, 42, of 1974 Cudaback Ave.; Marilyn J. Burch, 50, of 1038 Centre Ave.; Michael J. Steger, 46, of 711 Willow Ave.; Joseph A. Socko Jr., 39, of 489 22nd St. and Patricia A. Turner, 34, of 21B Plum Walk. Vivian R. Scarbrough, 31, of 35G Apple Walk was charged with petit larceny, misuse of food stamps and offering a false instrument for filing.

In Lockport, Laura L. Bane, 27, of 6146 Ruhlman Road was charged with grand larceny, misuse of food stamps and offering a false instrument for filing while David S. Barone, 34, and Gail H. Barone, 32, both of 7265 Townline Road, Wheatfield, were charged with grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing. Michael L. Morley, 34, and Rosalie M. Morley, 29, both of 155 Cottage St., were charged with petit larceny, misuse of food stamps and offering a false instrument for filing.

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