The Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) charged 178 for welfare fraud between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2019.

Restitution owed to the Commonwealth from these cases totals $886,055.54.

90 cases of people fraudulently receiving public assistance, which were graded as third-degree felonies, include the following from northwestern Pennsylvania:

  • Desiree McClendon, of Erie in Erie County, for $2,308.50 in Cash Assistance fraud and $971 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamp) fraud.
  • Megan Kazmierczak, of Edinboro in Erie County, for $3,405.88 in Cash Assistance fraud and $1,702 in SNAP fraud.
  • Jessica Kiser, of Buchkannon in Mercer County, for $995.40 in Cash Assistance fraud and $2,016 in SNAP fraud.
  • Bethany Pifer, of Fairview in Erie County, for $2,576 in SNAP fraud and $2,717.40 in Subsidized Day Care Fraud.
  • Montice Robinson, of Franklin in Venango County, for $4,097 in SNAP fraud.
  • Michael Riggens, of Sharon in Mercer County, for $711 in SNAP fraud and $2,572.74 in Medical Assistance fraud.
  • Rebecca Fry, of Jamestown in Mercer County, for $10,838.48 in Medical Assistance fraud.

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and $15,000 fine, as well as mandatory disqualification from the benefits program that was defrauded.

88 misdemeanor charges of public benefits fraud were also filed.

Suspected fraud can be reported by calling the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582 or visiting the OSIG website. Tipsters can remain anonymous.