NEWS RELEASE DETAILS

DATE/TIME: Friday, October 21st, 2005 / 03:30 PM
SUBJECT:5 ARRESTED IN WELFARE FRAUD SWEEP

A joint operation between the Schenectady Police Department and the Schenectady County Department of Social Services (DSS) targeting welfare fraud in the City of Schenectady has resulted in the arrests of 4 women and 1 man.

Detectives and patrol officers teamed with DSS investigators this morning to arrest the following people:

* Mark Davis, 46, of 4 Jefferson Street, is charged w/ the felonies of Welfare Fraud-4th degree and Offering a False Instrument for Filing-1st degree. Davis submitted a welfare application to DSS in which he failed to indicate income he was receiving that made him ineligible for welfare benefits. As a result, Davis received $1,746 in benefits he was not entitled to.

* Heather Devarnne-MacDonald, 24, of 58 Haigh Avenue, is charged w/ Welfare Fraud-4th and Offering a False Instrument for Filing-1st. Devarnne-MacDonald knowingly failed to tell DSS that her husband was residing in her household and was employed. As a result, she received $2,045 in benefits that she was not entitled to.

* Jennifer Merritt, 32, of 2979 Troy-Schenectady Road in Niskayuna, is charged w/ the felony of Grand Larceny-4th. Merritt knowingly failed to advise DSS that her husband was employed and, as a result, she received DSS-provided daycare services for her child worth $1,639.25 that she was not entitled to.

* Bibi Mohammed, 41, of 155 Jerry Street, is charged w/ Welfare Fraud-3rd and Offering a False Instrument for Filing-1st. Mohammed knowingly failed to advise DSS that her husband was residing in her household and that he owned a business (Gino’s Pizza, 4th Street in Troy). She also failed to claim a bank account. As a result, Mohammed has received $19,928 in food stamps since 2002 that she was not entitled to.

* Melissa Williams, 19, of Yates Village, is charged w/ Grand Larceny-4th degree. Williams was utilizing DSS-provided daycare services for her child after she was no longer employed and failed to notify the agency of that fact. As a result, Williams received $1,841 in daycare services that she was not entitled to.

All of the subjects were arraigned today in Police Court. Davis, Devarnne-MacDonald, Merritt and Williams were released on their own recognizance. Mohammed was released on $500 bail. All of them will return to court at a later date.

These 5 people received a total of $27,199 in taxpayer-subsidized benefits that they knew they were not entitled to. This operation was part of a continuing effort to aggressively combat welfare fraud in Schenectady.