In an early morning sweep Tuesday, county and state investigators arrested 15 of 32 criminal defendants with outstanding warrants accused of collectively pocketing more than a quarter of a million dollars in fraudulent public assistance payments, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Two of the 15 arrested on welfare fraud charges were from the Antelope Valley.
Rodney Lamar Gray, 41, of Lancaster, was arrested on suspicion of stealing $600 in public assistance payments, and Jeanette Nunley, 48, of Littlerock, was arrested on suspicion of stealing $720 in public assistance payments, according to Shiara Davila of the District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators also made arrests in Bellflower, Long Beach and Los Angeles. One arrest was made in San Bernardino County in the city of Chino Hills. Five defendants surrendered.
“Public assistance fraud is especially despicable in this economic climate in which federal and state budget cuts have increased the vulnerability of needy, elderly and disabled individuals,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley in a statement. “Truly needy people may go without as a direct result of a few greedy criminals.”
Among those facing welfare fraud charges is 45-year-old Tabetha Sherelle Birdsong of Los Angeles who allegedly stole nearly $38,000 between 2007 and 2011.
Birdsong is accused of defrauding In Home Supportive Services (IHSS), a program for the elderly and disabled. Birdsong, who was a provider, allegedly received payment for a woman who had been dead since 2009. Birdsong, a provider for multiple IHSS recipients, additionally received more than $17,000 in food stamps and more than $18,000 from CalWORKS – a welfare program of cash aid and services for eligible families – by failing to report her IHSS income.
Also charged are Reginald Ray Peoples, 54, of Van Nuys, and Corrina Martha Luna, 50, of Chino Hills.
Peoples, an IHSS recipient whose provider died more than two years ago, is accused of forging his provider’s signature for the purpose of fraudulently billing IHSS and cashing almost $20,500 in payments.
Luna is accused of fraudulently listing her sister as an IHSS provider for herself, her husband and her son. Luna’s sister, however, never was a provider for any of them and was unaware of the fraudulent dealings that purportedly netted Luna more than $13,300.
In 2011, prosecutors of the Public Assistance Fraud Division filed felony complaints against 108 defendants for IHSS theft which alone accounted for a total loss of more than $710,000. These defendants also were charged with theft from other public assistance programs amounting to a total loss of more than $1.5 million.
Investigators from the District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services and the California Department of Health Care Services participated in Tuesday’s sweep.
(Information via press release from the Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office.)