HARRISBURG — The Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) filed welfare fraud charges against 178 individuals between January 1 and March 31 of 2019. The restitution owed the Commonwealth in these cases totals $886,055.54. Additional cost savings will be realized as the defendants will be temporarily disqualified from receiving public benefits in the programs they allegedly defrauded.

Melissa LaSalle, of Shamokin, has been charged with a third-degree felony for allegedly defrauding the state of $860 through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and $3,484.82 in Subsidized Day Care.

“Our office remains vigilant to protect the integrity of our vital public assistance programs,” said State Inspector General Bruce R. Beemer. “We are proud to work with our partners in law enforcement across the Commonwealth to help those in need and stop those who cheat.”

Along with LaSalle’s charges, the OSIG filed ninety (90) cases of fraudulently receiving public assistance that were graded as felonies of the third degree.

If convicted, the maximum penalty they face is seven years in prison and a fine of $15,000.00, plus a mandatory disqualification period from the benefits program they allegedly defrauded.

In addition, the OSIG filed eighty-eight (88) misdemeanor charges of public benefits fraud. All persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

To report suspected fraud please call the Welfare Fraud Tipline at 1-800-932-0582 or visit the OSIG website at www.osig.pa.gov. Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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