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Woman charged with welfare fraud after new story highlighted her
Reported by: Chris Papst
HARRISBURG -- CBS 21s story about a big time lottery winner collecting welfare has caused a lot of outrage, which CBS-21 can now report has resulted in new legislation being drafted to change state law, meanwhile felony charges has been filed against the woman we exposed.
A few weeks ago, we introduced you to Jamie Frankford. In January of 2012, Frankford won $330,000 in the Pennsylvania Lottery, but continued to collect welfare by not reporting her winnings to the state.
"I think the fact of the lottery winnings and the size of the lottery winnings makes the case unique." Mike Sprow is the PA Inspector General; his office investigated Frankford and just filed felony charges for welfare fraud.
"When you look at the ultimate charge and what the overpayment was, $10,000 and some change, that by itself isn't all that unique, said Sprow. We have that amount of subsidized child care payments of that amount and greater on a fairly regular basis."
CBS 21 contacted Frankford who gave us this statement: I learned my lesson. Im sorry for what I did. I will never get assistance again no matter how hard up I am. Its not worth it.
"Sometimes we need something like this to get the public sparked up." Representative Adam Harris of Juniata County has used that spark from Frankfords story to pass new legislation that would stop lottery winners from illegally collecting welfare.
"That was really the main thing, stated Harris. Representative Benninghoff came to me and said, did you see the CBS-21 story and I absolutely did. He said why don't we use your bill that passed last session and put this great language in it and get it some momentum to get it to the governor's desk this year."
Twelve days later, House Bill 1489 passed unanimously in the Finance Committee. It would force the Department of Revenue to investigate all lottery winnings over $2,500 to see if the winner is on welfare.
"It's the integrity of the system. I talk to people every day who are upset with this broken welfare system. It's too easy to cheat the system. It's too easy to get your hands on tax payer dollars that aren't yours, concluded Harris.
If found guilty, Frankford will have to make restitution payments of $10,161; the amount she is charged with illegally collecting. She could face up to a $15,000 fine and nine months in jail. But if she wants she can continue to collect.
In Pennsylvania, someone has to be found guilty three times of welfare fraud before no longer being able to get assistance.
This is the fifth 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