Five indicted in welfare fraud schemes

AUBURN — Four Lewiston men and a Waterford woman were charged Wednesday with scheming to defraud the state welfare system.

Those who were indicted were involved in selling or buying electronic benefit cards (EBTs) that were issued to them through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services or trading them for drugs. In each case, the person who had been issued the EBT card was complicit in the scheme, prosecutors said.

The state is continuing to crack down on welfare cheats, said Leanne Robbin, an assistant attorney general who heads up the financial crimes division. She said she and her team of lawyers are working with officials at DHHS to investigate and prosecute welfare fraud cases. They also work closely with local law enforcement officials in the cities where the fraudulent activity is taking place, she said.

An Androscoggin County grand jury rose late Wednesday and handed up indictments against:

* Katherine M. Pike, 40, of 459 Plummer Hill Road, Waterford. She was charged with one count of theft by deception and one count of misuse of identification. From July 2010 until the end of March, she stole between $1,000 and $10,000 from DHHS' Supplemental Assistance for Nutrition Program by using the EBT card that was issued to David M. Stain, 46, of 391 Lisbon St., Lewiston, according to the indictment.

If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison on the theft charge and up to 364 days in jail for the misuse of identification charge.

* Stain was charged with two counts of felony theft by deception. For two years, starting in February 2009, he stole between $1,000 and $10,000 from the city of Lewiston, the state and the federal government through the General Assistance program, according to his indictment. He gave the impression that Lisa Stain was not a member of his household when she was, the indictment says. From July 2010 to the end of March, he also stole between $1,000 and $10,000 from DHHS and the federal government by giving the impression that his EBT card was being used by him to buy food and household goods when he knew that wasn't the case, the indictment says. If convicted, he could be sentenced up to a total of 10 years in prison on the two charges.

* Manny Souza, 20, of 391 Lisbon St., Lewiston, was charged with one count of felony theft by deception, one count of misuse of identification and one count of unlawful trafficking in schedule Z drugs. From December 2010 to March, Souza stole from DHHS and the federal government's SNAP program by using an EBT card issued to Frank Ramsdell, who traded the card in exchange for marijuana, the indictment says. Ramsdell was charged in 8th District Court in Lewiston with the crime of theft as an accomplice, punishable by up to six months in jail, according to Assistant Attorney General Peter Black, who filed the charge.

* Christopher S. Frazer, 43, of 28 Walnut St., Lewiston, was charged with one count of unlawful trafficking in schedule W drugs, one count of felony theft by deception and three counts of misuse of identification. On Feb. 5, 2011, he was found with 90 oxycodone pills. From January 2010 to March 2011, he stole between $1,000 and $10,000 from the SNAP program by using EBT cards that were issued to Shannon Drummond, Robert Baylor and Duane Thomas, his indictment says. If convicted, Frazer could face up to 10 years in prison on the trafficking charge, up to five years in prison on the theft charge and a total of a year and a half in jail on the misuse charges.

* Robert W. Baylor, 34, of 128 Campus Ave., Lewiston, was charged with one count of felony theft by deception. Between January 2010 and March 2011, he stole from the SNAP program by giving his EBT card to someone else to use, according to his indictment. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Joe Morin's picture

Many of us know..

... people that are abusing the system. Is there a hotline of sorts to report offenders?? As far as the costs, folks like this need to know that we, as a society, won't stand for it and are willing to prosecute offenders despite the costs. Strict laws and action will provide a good detterent for anyone considering it in the future.
If these individuals put as much effort into gainfull employment, they would be invaluable to their employers and a few more people would be provided the services they truly need.

 's picture

Prime Reason for Drug testing

Here are 5 more reasons for Drug testing to receive welfare.
Folks who don't use don't need to worry.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Lock em up

No one , least of all me, wants to see people get away with welfare fraud. Not only is it stealing from the tax payer but it is also stealing from the poor who really need help, a really despicable thing to do. Yet, when I look at what it costs the taxpayer to catch and punish these guys I have to wonder if it is a smart way to spend taxpayer dollars. One of the few things I cheered about the governor's policies was when he hired extra workers a few months back to police welfare fraud. I was hoping, however, to be reading about bigger cheats. Like pharmacies who defraud millions, and medical equipment companies, and hospitals who overcharge. When you add up what it will cost to imprison these losers, court costs, workers pay to investigate and match it up with what they stole, it makes you wonder if there isn't a better way. Pictures on the cards sound promising to me. Perhaps the stores who accept the cards need tighter rules. I'd like to see smarter solutions.

Mike Lachance's picture

Really? When did all these

Really? When did all these big wig "republican" companies start cheating the system? Just since 2011? Who CONTROLLED every aspect of Maine from 1972-2010? Republicans?

Apparently being asleep at the wheel is ok if youre a Democrat, and now that Republicans are in control and making huge efforts to tackle a problem it is now the Republicans who are guilt of the real crimes? The Dems never raised a finger to even attempt to tackle these problems, yet they are completely in the clear? And there are no companies who are "Democrat bigwigs" in Maine? (And BTW, how can a company be a bigwig in a party?) Why dont you start by looking into the Mitchell Family in Waterville for "Democrat bigwigs" who own big companies in Maine. The list goes on and on. There's so much mud in these areas that only a foo, would try to label every company "republican big wig" or democrat bigwig"....

The fact is that this isnt a "party" issue its a Problem Solver issue. The Dems did nothing, the Repubs are doing something. You have to start somewhere, and now that Augusta is forcing Maine Agencies to start being accountable (Thank You Republicans) we will start to see more and more of these stories coming out.... and yes, some of them might eventually involve companies... but there will be Repubs and Dems in these companies alike.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Maybe you ought to look into

Maybe you ought to look into how much money the state has given to relatives or companies run by relatives of people in high positions in Augusta....if you are going to go after fraud then maybe the state should look in the mirror and go from top to bottom....we are talking millions given to companies which could solve the current problem and buy officials time to do a complete investigation of fraud committed.

Mike Lachance's picture

So Tina, you are making an

So Tina, you are making an accusation of this being a new "Republican" problem? (in that case only within the last year) Or are you admitting it is infact a problem that has existed for decades (under Democrats in Maine for the last 40 years) just as it occurs in every oher state in the US whether Dem or Repub controlled.

It's ironic that during the long reign of Democrat totalitarian control of Maine for four decades these problems were completely ignored at all levels and deemed non-problems. Suddenly when a Republican administration and State House take control and make begin the unprecedented effort to start the process of cleaning up the waste and abuse, it's suddenly the "Republicans" who are accused of ignoring the "whole" problem, deemed guilty, complicit and dasterdly in their corruptness, and subsequently labelled as somehow aiding and abetting the problems only THEY are attempting to clean up. All the while the Dems who are now the minority, and given a free pass, with total disregard for the mess they created and the systemic "norm" they brought about.

Their are problems that one could trace to a Repubs AND Dems alike... but only the Repubs are trying to fix the mess.

These are astronomically absurd times indeed.

 's picture

money that was wasted on wasted people

To quote Peter Griffin " That just grinds my gears!" That money was wasted on wasted people. How come it is taking so long to catch these ppl. We (the public) all know who they are, why don't they, with all this technology around. Its easy to find who's living with who, etc... My credit card has my picture on it for identity purposes, why don't they? You want to make sure the honest ppl are protected too. It only takes one(or in this case 5) rotten apple to spoil it for the rest who TRULEY need it. I am one of the recent unemployed, but I would never ask for help because I don't need it, but if I was single I'm sure I would need it but won't get any help. Why? Cuz I don't have more children than I can't afford to care for. Keep up the investigations DHHS. You might atually find the money you need to keep Maine going.

Barbara Parker's picture

The sad thing about this

The sad thing about this is..these scumbags will just get a slap on the wrist, will be out on the streets and they'll tell two friends etc etc....it will be business as usual for these jerks that take food away from children.

 's picture

ya because its to expensive

ya because its to expensive to keep them in jail.

Mark Elliott's picture

Yeah, Pelosi managed to do

Yeah, Pelosi managed to do it......

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I didn't do it you did

I sit here and read the petty bickering that goes on.
My republicans have outdone your democrats. Yah but my democrats have all the answeres. My republicans will put a man on the moon during this session.
I have to sit here and laugh. If all you idiots, and you know who you are, would put half that energy toward solving the real problems through constructive conversation, who knows maybe the people in Augusta will notice and catch on. Bickering like five year olds won't ever accomplish anything, unless of course your running for office.
I'll probably get slammed for this comment but I don't really give a rats ass. Think about it.

Mike Lachance's picture

Hey Frank, thats alot of

Hey Frank, thats alot of petty bickering you're giving out... and without one single solution offered. "Get along to go along" has been status quo for decades... the rssult is the Maine we have now. It wasnt created in 1 year. The bickering, arguing, disagreements and debates are REQUIRED to get the issues all on the table. Solutions will never be reached if the problems are suppressed in the name of "cordiality"... Politeness has only gotten Maine into the toilet.

David  Cote's picture

Mike, I read your post...

Aaaannnnnd, I reject everything about it on one premise; The people we elect into office and the issues we either vote for or against are decided by the independent voters who actually pay attention to reality rather than the hard core beliefs of the left or right. I think the most insane thing a voter can do is to cast votes along strict party lines, no matter who is running. And I say that because when voters do this they have no care at all in hearing what the other side is saying. Hard core left and right wingers don't have open and objective minds. The proof of that is laid out all over these blogs many times over. And when a leftie or righty is hit between the eyes with the truth, their comeback is to throw rocks, (see Dan Breton). And I get this type of behavior has been present for years. Still, that doesn't make it right even if you believe it does. That's why independents, like myself don't feel the need to constantly partake in mudslinging. That doesn't mean it makes us superior, only wise because we do listen to both sides, and it's always more beneficial to be a listener than an antagonist.

Mike Lachance's picture

Hiding behind the curtain of

Hiding behind the curtain of "Independent" does not preclude you from being complicit in the "all politicians are the same" cop-out. Independents are never independent. Ive known enough Mainers over the years who follow the "im not political" ideology to know that it is these folks who have let the status quo continue by vociferously proclaiming themselves non-partisan and thus devoid of any overt political opinion. (While privately having the most vile opinions of others who dont see eye-to-eye with them)

You cannot take the POLITICS out of POLITICS.

I agree that no one should vote strict party lines. I will very likely not vote for the Pres. Nominee on the (R) side because the GOP is fronting a fraud candidate. Gingrich and Romney are true RINOs and I will vote for no one before voting for either of them. Similarly, I will not vot for Snowe or Collins ever again as these two are also RINO fruads who have abandoned the conservative base the pretend to associate their ideaologies with.

Simply put, voting for RINOs just because they carry an "R" by their name is a travesty to the political system.

David  Cote's picture

I don't hide behind a thing, Mike

In the past year I have signed the petition to allow gay marriage to be legal and have defended the likes of Paul LePage and Mike Michaud within these blogs in reference to what they stand for. But I don't need to defend my voting record or ideals to you, or anyone else because of the fact I am an independent voter. And we independents are villafied by the left and right because you can't control the our thought process with your slants and rants. And I find that quite humorous, frankly. So I will agree to disagree with you and I thank you for the dialouge.

Mike Lachance's picture

You dont need to defend your

You dont need to defend your voting record? Why not? The rest of us do. Thus my point exactly; Independents feel that by claiming (I) they are immune from political reproach and dont need to defend anything they do, say or stand for. Your ideals are every bit as clear as my ideals; and while they may not be the same, I am ready to defend every vote, every position and every statement I make. You are going to be held to the same bar, whether you like it or not. You DO have an ideaology and you DO have an opinion. Therefoire you truly are NOT "Independent"; no more inpedendent than myself or even Dan Breton (*gasp*).

As far as controlling your thought process.... who exactly is controlling my thoughts? Perhaps you should open a Bible to find out. You're free to disagree with that one. Slants and Rants huh? Everyone is out to get you (left and right) and trying to control your thoughts? (yikes!)

I'll tell you what. When you vote LePage and Michaud, its no wonder Maine is getting nowhere. Might as well try to light a fire with tap water. All you get is time wasted and a wet stick.

David  Cote's picture

Wow, Mike!

That's quite a slanted rant you just jettisoned from your poisoned keyboard. But your entire text proves every point I made to you. Thanks for that and have a most interesting day.

Mike Lachance's picture

You realize Ive never claimed

You realize Ive never claimed I was without opinion (read: slant). Furthermore, the point you failed to recognize, is that youve proven only that you hold yourself to a different standard than anyone else with an opinion. Not really proving much, as you claim immunity in being "Independent"... Doesnt hold water. And the fact that youve termed my POV as "poisoned" and "jettisoned" illustrates clearly what I described in my earlier post.

Regardless, thanks for the wish for an interesting day. The snow is melting and it looks to be rather pleasant out today! We need to enjoy this weather while it lasts!

GARY SAVARD's picture

This is good news, however,

This is good news, however, welfare fraud in this state is so prevalent that if it could be whittled down to a minimal level, much of the DHHS shortage could very likely be eliminated with those funds. You can't convince the liberal democrats that this is a major problem, but many people are aware of it, including, fortunately, Governor Lepage and new Lewiston Mayor Macdonald. Until Maine stops being a haven for people living on the backs of working people, this will continue to be a problem.

Note to Dan: Read the article in this issue of the SJ about undisclosed money obtained by our beloved Augusta bureaucrats for personal gain and you will find that there are thieves on both sides of the aisle.

Mark Elliott's picture

Thieves are thieves and they

Thieves are thieves and they come from all walks. The best part about this story is the number of "thieves" reading it that just might turn a leaf at the threat of public shame. 5 charged but many more reading.......

Funny how DHHS doesn't seem to have trouble finding and charging these thieves now that they've been told to do so.......what were they doing the last few decades? Maybe the threat of budget cuts helped?

 's picture

are you sure?

Dan, are you sure he never paid back any of the money? I almost positive a portion of the $1.6 million was paid back after he liquidated his business.

 's picture

valid point

Dan, I agree that it does not reflect well on the State. Now, answer me this, if you are billing me for something and then I change the rules and you continue billing me at the old rules, which cause me to over pay you. Who is at fault? You for over billing or me for not telling you I changed the rules.

The Speaker did repay about $450K of the $1.6 million after he was forced to sell his business.

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