Posted at: 10/04/2012 5:53 PM
| Updated at: 10/04/2012 6:06 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann
TROY - $43,000 in Medicaid. $38,000 in food stamps.
Those were just some of the amounts that Rensselaer County officials said 13 residents illegally pocketed for benefits and services they didn't deserve.
That includes more than $11,000 from Patricia Gillett of Troy, who's now charged with welfare fraud and grand larceny.
"I'm shocked I didn't think I did anything wrong," she said Thursday outside her home on Northern Drive.
Gillett felt she got bad advice from a social services case worker, and collected Medicaid even as her income for her seasonal job for a funeral business went up to $410 dollar-a-week.
"She said as far as I'm concerned you make too much money and I said ok fine.
"Then did you still receive Medicaid," a reporter asked.
"No, no, we closed the case then. I haven't received Medicaid since March," Gillett said.
But Rensselaer County officials said there's no excuse, that the defendants rounded up didn't honestly report income from a job, doing child care, or getting social security. And that they should have known the rules.
"Our staff are trained to give that info at the interview and are also required to give this applicant information in writing," said Randy Hall, Commissioner of the Rensselaer County Social Services Department.
Officials said tips from the public and following the paper trail led them to catch the fraud. But Gillett said she hopes to prove she never intended to cheat anyone.
"I've never been in trouble I've never been arrested. What do you do? What do most people do? It's not something I did deliberately," she added.
Investigators said nearly $150,000 was illegally pocketed by the defendants rounded up Thursday. If convicted, they'll be ordered to pay it back.