Orleans County Sheriff's Deputies Charge Lottery Winner With Welfare Fraud

April 12, 2012 Updated Apr 12, 2012 at 5:35 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Orleans County Sheriff's Deputies Charge Lottery Winner With Welfare Fraud

April 12, 2012 Updated Apr 12, 2012 at 5:35 PM EDT

Albion, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- A winner of the New York State Lottery's "Win for Life" game has a
date in court after allegedly attempting to access entitlement programs for the poor.

According to a news release from the Orleans County Sheriff's Office, 51-year-old Anthony Palermo was arrested and charged Thursday on felony charges of  Welfare Fraud 3rd Degree, Grand Larceny 3rd Degree, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing 1st Degree for allegedly trying to access Medicaid, HEAP, and Emergency Cash Assistance benefits.

According to Orleans County Fraud Investigator Marie Snyder, Palermo allegedly applied and began receiving benefits in September of last year. Palermo had allegedly received over four thousand dollars in benefits to date from the Medicaid and HEAP programs and was attempting to apply for emergency cash assistance at Orleans County Social Services

Palermo was the winner of the "Win for Life" scratch off lottery game. Palermo began collecting $1,000 dollars a week on the $1,000,000 guaranteed minimum prize in 1998 and has presumably
collected nearly three quarters of a million dollars to date.

"It's my job to make sure that people who attempt to defraud the taxpayers of Orleans County are stopped and are forced to either repay the money or face the consequences.This is what we do every day" said Investigator Snyder.

"We are working with the Department of Social Services on a daily basis to see that taxpayers are not being taken advantage of. It is important that the citizens of Orleans County know that their local officials take their responsibility as stewards of taxpayer money very seriously," said Sheriff Scott Hess.

"This is just one of the more egregious examples of the kinds of things that our employees are
dealing with all the time. Orleans County has zero tolerance for this sort of behavior. You want
to cheat the system? You have found yourself in the wrong place." said Dave Callard, Chairman
of the Orleans County Legislature.

"Local districts have been placed in a very precarious position as the result of the State's
lenient rules and regulations, particularly the fact that Medicaid applicants no longer must
appear in person to obtain benefits. We intend to continue to represent the taxpayers of
Orleans County by pursuing all variations of welfare fraud and prosecuting those that break the
law to receive illegal monies," said Thomas Kuryla, Commissioner of Social Services, Orleans
County.