Orange County officials announced today that fraud charges were brought against 30 county individuals and two corporations, the Middletown Times Herald-Record reported.
The fraud charges were brought as part of county-wide sweeps that—since January 2014—has put the amount of illegally obtained public benefits in the county at more than $1 million.
The two corporations charged in the sweep are owned by residents of the Village of Kiryas Joel in the Orange County district.
In the latest of three sweeps, dubbed ‘Operation Million Dollar Mark’, Mordechai Friedman, 37, owner of YMF and Associates, and Chayim Deutsch, 36, of KJ Advertising were charged with second-degree and third-degree welfare fraud respectively.
Much of the fraud was committed through Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance benefits.
Kiryas Joel is a hasidic enclave in Monroe, NY. An entrance sign requests that visitors dress modestly in accordance with modesty laws.
A 2009 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau found that more than two-thirds of Kiryas Joel residents live below the federal poverty line, and more than 40 percent receive food stamps, a separate Middletown Times Herald-Record report says.
In light of this scandal, county officials are seeking a legislative fix.
"We need these loopholes closed," Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler told the Times Herald-Record. "It's the IRS, it's the state level. There's multiple levels that need to be fixed."
Carly Stern is an Editorial Intern and Miriam Groner is the Web Editor.