The Erie County District Attorney's Office worked with the Special Investigations Division of Social Services to prosecute 39 cases of welfare fraud last year.
The five biggest cases of 2017, as identified by the Special Investigations Division, involved Buffalo residents who were convicted of misdemeanors, required to make full restitution and received a conditional discharge.
- Alisa Argentieri forged pay stubs from her spa employer, photocopying an actual pay stub, whiting out her gross income and typing in a lower figure. She illegally obtained $14,021 in food stamp and Medicaid benefits. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor welfare fraud and was disqualified from the food stamp program for one year.
- Kimberly Bates claimed $15,222 in temporary assistance and received food stamp benefits for four years by concealing the fact that she was also receiving a separate low-income housing subsidy through Section 8. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor welfare fraud, was disqualified from temporary assistance for 18 months and from food stamps for two years.
- Jennifer Persutti concealed her marriage for more than three years to gain $32,227 in Medicaid benefits. Her husband received a disability income from Social Security, and his two children received Social Security dependent benefits. She pleaded guilty to petit larceny theft charges.
- Alexis Petty-Joseph hid the fact that she was living with the father of two of her children for five years. The father was working and drawing a paycheck from a home improvement store. She illegally collected $38,338 in food stamp benefits, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor welfare fraud and was disqualified from the food stamp program for one year.
- Rhea Diamond Prine concealed her part-time employment as a hotel housekeeper. That allowed her to improperly collect temporary assistance for four years and food stamps for one year, totaling $14,241. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor welfare fraud, paid $5,000 in restitution upfront, was disqualified from temporary assistance for 18 months, and from food stamps for one year.