Three Erie County home aides charged in fraudulently receiving over $107,000 in welfare benefits

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Three Erie County women have been charged Tuesday with fraudulently receiving more than $107,000 in SNAP and Medicaid benefits while they worked as aides for an elderly West Seneca woman.

The women were all acquaintances since childhood, according to a statement from the office of New York State Acting Welfare Inspector General.

The women failed to properly report their work income to the Erie County Department of Social Services, which would have made them ineligible for public assistance benefits.

Suzanne Smith, 49, of Athol Street, Buffalo, was charged with second degree grand larceny, second degree welfare fraud, and ten counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing, all felonies.

Michelle Dudek, 30, of Abbott Road, Buffalo, was charged with third degree grand larceny, third degree welfare fraud, and eleven counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing, all felonies.

Kelly Foss, 44, of Peters Corners Road, Alden, was charged with third degree grand larceny, third degree welfare fraud, and four counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing, all felonies.

All three women were privately employed for the elderly West Seneca woman starting in 2011 until her death in May 2016. The defendants were all being paid weekly for their work as aides, and none of the income the defendants received from their employment was ever reported to the Department of Social Services, an investigation by Welfare Inspector General Leahy Scott with the assistance of the Erie County Department of Social Services’ special investigations unit found.

The investigation found that during her employment from 2011 to 2016, Smith collected $10,953 in food stamp benefits and $40,509.68 in Medicaid. Her income from her employment over that period was $142,674.18.

Dudek received $82,314 in income during the course of her employment.  She fraudulently received $15,865 in food stamp benefits and $5,751.58 in Medicaid.

Foss collected food stamp benefits while she was employed. She received $307,478 in income over the course of her employment, and received $34,155 in food stamps.

“Through a years-long scheme, these three defendants earned income from steady employment and then brazenly padded their pockets with public benefits meant only for those most in need of government assistance,” Scott said. “Simply stated, they claimed they were indigent when indeed they were not, leaving taxpayers paying for a six-figure fraud.”

All three defendants were arraigned in Buffalo City Court and released pending further court action.

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