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Lewiston cracks down on welfare fraud

7:42 AM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The city of Lewiston has removed 84 people from its general assistance program, 50 of them for welfare fraud, according to Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald.

Mayor Macdonald projected the city will save $162 thousand by eliminating those 84 people in a press conference Tuesday morning.

He says the investigation is part of an on-going effort to "clean up" the city.

"We are going to be continuing to do this and weed them out," said Macdonald.

"We're not going to be known as a welfare town anymore. If you want to come here, don't come here for welfare, because if we catch you, we will prosecute you."

According to Lewiston Police Chief Mike Bussiere, those found guilty of welfare fraud could face six months jail time and/or fines.

Sue Charron, Director of Lewiston's Social Services Department, said the city's welfare system has 225 cases.

She said the office suspected cases of fraud when checking on employment documents.

"We have so many people coming in here applying, that they're really stressed out up there," said Mayor Macdonald, referring to the General Assistance office.

"But we had a bit of a lull...at which time, we were able to do this," said Macdonald.

He said the city will continue to investigate cases of welfare fraud, and expects to remove more people.

"Before the summer, it's going to be a much larger number," said Macdonald.

NEWS CENTER

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