Four Lakewood fraudsters appear before judge

Lakewood residents accused of bilking the government of $75,000 appear before a judge.

Tzvi Lev ,

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Jail
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Four Jewish residents of Lakewood, New Jersey arrested as part of the massive crackdown on the Lakewood Jewish community appeared before a Superior Court in Ocean Country on Wednesday.

The four are accused of bilking the government of more than $75,000 in Medicaid benefits between 2011 and 2013 and are charged with theft by deception. NJ.com reported that they applied for pre-trial intervention, an initiative which enables first-time offenders to have the charges dropped after finishing the program.

The program must be approved by a judge and the suspects must first appear before a grand jury.

The four are part of the 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 daycare 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 a amnesty program after local rabbis were inundated with calls from worried citizens. Hundreds had cancelled their Medicaid benefits and updated their income information.

The 90-day amnesty program 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 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.



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