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CBS 21 report on welfare fraud leads to proposed new legislation

Updated: Monday, January 13 2014, 09:38 PM CST

Reported by: Chris Papst

HARRISBURG -- Momentum is building to change state law after CBS 21’s explosive series that exposed flaws and waste in the state Department of Welfare.

A new bill which mandates a cross check between the lottery and welfare department is moving quickly through the House and could end up going to the Senate later this week.

House Bill 1489 will be voted on by the full House Wednesday. The House leadership has endorsed the bill and now the Senate is getting on board. Some Senators are writing their own legislation to fix the issues within the welfare department that CBS 21 exposed.

Back in November, we first introduced you to Jamie Frankford. In January of 2012, Frankford won $330,000 in the lottery, but continued to collect welfare by not telling the state. CBS 21 exposed how the welfare department doesn’t have a system to catch this type of fraud.

“Your story brought a little more emphasis to it because it obviously isn’t working the way it is,” said Speaker of the House Sam Smith, R-66.

Last week, Smith announced his support for the new law, which would force the Department of Revenue to cross check lottery winnings over $2,500 to see if the winner is on welfare.

“Anyone who is paying their taxes certainly would like to think the other guy is paying their rightful, legal responsibility, as well,” added Smith.

“Some further tightening of the rules is a good thing for everybody,” Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-25, said.

Scarnati, along with Senator David Argall have just announced their own legislation to reform welfare, the result of recent constituent outrage.

“It’s the media that spotlights a lot of this,” said Scarnati, President Pro Tempore of the state Senate.

Their reforms – in part – will also include cross-checking lottery winnings while increasing the penalties on those who commit welfare fraud.

“Those are the same kind of issues that are driving my constituents just crazy. And I know we’re never going to track down every single abuser, but I think we can certainly cut down the number,” Sen. David Argall, R-29, said.

We also have an update on Jamie Frankford, the lottery winner. She was charged with felony welfare fraud after our story aired.

She is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 30. If found guilty, she faces restitution payments of $10,161, a $15,000 fine and nine months in jail.

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This is the sixth installment in a series about welfare fraud.

The previous stories can be found by following the links below:

Whistleblower accuses Department of Public Welfare of fraud

Lotto winners bilk the system by continuing to collect welfare after winning

Welfare loophole allows people to collect welfare while living with wealthy relatives


Legal loophole allows illegal immigrants to collect welfare

Woman charged with welfare fraud after CBS 21 story highlights her

CBS 21 report on welfare fraud leads to proposed new legislation


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