Welfare Fraud Supporting Extravagant Lifestyles and Terror Abroad: MN Senate Calls for Investigation
Fox 9 News released a bombshell investigative report this week alleging wide-spread welfare fraud in the Personal Care Attendant and CCAP (child care for low-income parents) programs. The state senate, in a quickly called hearing, heard extraordinary testimony from a former DHS investigator, Scott Stillman and others.
Here are some highlights:
This investigation, focused primarily on welfare payments for child care, is just getting started. The allegation is that as much as $100 million in welfare cash has left via the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Unlimited amounts of cash can be taken out of the U.S. as long as a form is submitted to customs.
The state disputes that the all cash could all come from its child care welfare program known as CCAP because the total budget for 2017 was just $248 million. Thirteen child care centers, however, have been closed since 2014 due to welfare fraud, and another 10 are under active investigation.
According to Fox News, “Sources in the Somali community told Fox 9 it is an open secret that starting a daycare center is a license to make money. The fraud is so widespread they said, that people buy shares of daycare businesses to get a cut of the huge public subsidies that are pouring in.”
Near the end at about 1:52:00, Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault) says he talked to county employees who told him, for example, that a family of 5 was getting $10,000 a month in child care and other welfare programs ($120K a year); when they go to higher ups to express concern they are told “We can’t bring this up.” County employees are afraid to testify.
At about 20:50, former DHS investigator Stillman says about Medicaid fraud, “The dollar amount, particularly personal care attendant fraud, way exceeds the day care fraud but most of that money is going to extravagant lifestyles, drugs, large houses. Things of that nature. But there’s no controls. I should say they’re inadequate.”
He went on to say that a federal investigation would reveal that there are “other entities” who are receiving “benefits” from this fraud. He points to shell companies used to launder the money. He said, “The PCA fraud and Medicaid fraud is rampant.”
He cited an $18 million plus fraud ring led by Lillian Richardson who went to prison; he says she fired up her welfare fraud business as soon as she got out of prison.
He cited the case of Barb Currin, who ran a $5 million fraud ring from Shakopee prison. Stillman asked authorities for her computer so he could track and recapture the funds; he was denied. He cited a Somali immigrant who used welfare fraud to run a harem of twelve women. He says there is a national security angle; that Minnesota taxpayer dollars are being used to support terror abroad, and that there are “impediments” to getting information, including data privacy laws.
Here is the press release from the Minnesota Senate on Thursday, May 17, 2018, it has links to all the news reports on this issue. This has the attention of Congressman Tom Emmer, who sit on the Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson, who sits on Homeland Security.
Senate Republicans propose independent state agency to root out fraud in Department of Human Services programs
(St. Paul. MN…) Republicans Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) and Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) are proposing the creation of an independent agency responsible for discovering and eliminating fraud in government assistance programs implemented by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The proposal comes in light of recent reports highlighting various types of fraud and oversight failures within DHS and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), including:
- Millions of fraudulent payments from the Child Care Assistance Program
- Millions of fraudulent payments to fake Personal Care Assistants
- Hundreds of millions in fraudulent Medicaid benefits to people who were ineligible
- Over 20,000 elder abuse complaints that went uninvestigated for months
“Reasonable people can agree that no matter how well a government assistance program is run, bad actors will still find a way to sneak through the cracks and steal from taxpayers. But there’s an intrinsic conflict of interest when the people investigating the fraud report directly to the people in charge of the programs they’re investigating,” said Sen. Abeler. “The investigators need freedom to do their jobs.”
The legislation directs DHS and MDH to create a plan for a new Department of Investigation, Compliance, and Eligibility that will house several oversight functions currently housed in those agencies, including the Office of Inspector General, the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC), and the Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC).
“For years, we’ve suspected widespread fraud and abuse in our government assistance programs, and for years these reports of fraud have been slowly leaking out. Now we have a former DHS employee blowing the whistle, telling us that what we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. An independent agency is the only way to protect taxpayers from waste and abuse, and bring to light the whole truth about who is taking advantage of our generous assistance programs,” said Sen. Benson.
The proposal is included in the Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations bill conference committee report adopted by the House and Senate:
DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION, COMPLIANCE, AND ELIGIBILITY.
- It is the goal of the legislature to consolidate into one new state agency the licensing, background study, and related oversight functions currently in the Department of Human Services and Department of Health, including the Office of Inspector General, the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC), and the Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC).
- The commissioners of human services and health shall work with the revisor of statutes to draft legislation establishing the new state agency, and provide the legislation to the chairs and ranking minority members of the senate and house of representatives committees with jurisdiction over health and human services by December 15, 2018, with the goal of the new state agency to begin operations on July 1, 2019.