Amnesty program for Lakewood fraudsters launched

New Jersey has launched an amnesty program for Lakewood Jews who defrauded Medicaid program, after mass arrests in June.

Tzvi Lev ,

Handcuffs (illustrative)
Handcuffs (illustrative)

New Jersey has announced an amnesty program for Lakewood Jews that purposely or inadvertently defrauded the Medicaid program. The move comes after 26 haredi Jews were arrested in June and July for receiving more then $2 million in improper benefits.

The 90-day program starts on Tuesday, and requires residents to pay back all of their benefits they fraudulently received. They would also be forbidden from using Medicaid for a full year, and will not be charged with a crime.

The move comes after 26 Jews were arrested in Lakewood this past July for allegedly defrauding the Medicaid program to the tune of millions. Police say that those arrested had received improper benefits reserved for the poor by hiding income through a scheme that prosecutors said was the most sophisticated they had seen in years.

The scheme, which the FBI said was extremely widespread, used a variety of shell companies and a phony day care to hide millions of unreported funds.

The arrests sent shock waves through the haredi town, which boasts some of the most prominent American Yeshivas, and authorities decided to launch the amnesty program after local rabbis were inundated with calls from worried citizens. Hundreds had cancelled their Medicaid benefits and updated their income information.

The Lakewood Vaad, and influential Jewish group in the city said that they supported the initiative. "The Vaad supports any and all programs that can help improve compliance rates among the general public," they said.