Hearing Set for Punxsy Woman Accused of Medical Assistance Benefits Fraud

PUNXSUTAWNEY BOROUGH, Pa. (EYT) – A Punxsutawney woman who is accused of failing to report a change in income to the Department of Human Services in order to keep her medical assistance benefits is due in court this week.

Court documents indicate that 25-year-old Tashawna Nichole Schaffer, of Punxsutawney, is scheduled to stand for a preliminary hearing in front of
Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline J. Mizerock at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, December 6.

Schaffer faces one second-degree misdemeanor count of fraud in obtaining food stamps/assistance.

According to a criminal complaint, the caseworker who was actively administering this case received information through a Department of Human Services information system and request for employment information that Tashawna N. Schaffer began new employment from March 16, 2018, to August 10, 2018.

A referral was made to the PA Office of Inspector General to investigate for fraud.

The complaint states that the OIG investigation discovered that Schaffer “willfully failed to report this return to her employment and wages to the Department of Human Services knowing this would negatively affect her eligibility for Medical Assistance (MA) Benefits.”

According to the complaint, Schaffer acknowledged she was interviewed on July 28, 2017, by the caseworker who explained the Public Assistance Application Rights and Responsibilities Statement. Schaffer also acknowledged she understood the rights and responsibility to report changes by the tenth of the month following the month of change to the Department of Human Services and that all information reported is true and correct under penalty of law.

Additionally, Schaffer signed an affidavit to report changes on July 28, 2017. These rights and responsibilities were also reviewed with the defendant by a caseworker who will testify the defendant understood them.

Payroll records reviewed by investigators verify dates of employment and wages for Schaffer. Also, the payroll administrator will testify to Schaffer’s payroll records, according to police.

Certified MA transcripts verify the amount of benefits received during the overpayment period. Follow-up verified by matching birthdate, Social Security number, etc., that Schaffer knowingly withheld information from the Department of Human Services in order to fraudulently obtain MA benefits that she was not eligible from May 1, 2018, to July 31, 2018, totaling $1,052.41.

Based on the investigation, the charge was filed in Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline J. Mizerock’s office on Wednesday, October 17, 2018.


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