09/26/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/26/2023 07:31
COLUMBUS - A finding for recovery of $48,840 was issued Tuesday against a former public assistance specialist at Richland County Job and Family Services (JFS), who used her position to improperly secure benefits for her boyfriend and his child, Auditor of State Keith Faber announced.
The total includes additional funds not included in court-ordered restitution as part of Rebecca Shafer's sentence in Richland County Common Pleas Court. She has repaid $850.
The final finding for recovery is included in a special audit released Tuesday that outlines the investigation into Shafter's wrongdoing. The full report is available online (ohioauditor.gov/auditsearch/search.aspx).
The Auditor of State's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) received a complaint in March 2022 from the administrator of Richland County JFS concerning an employee who allegedly used her position as an Eligibility Referral Specialist to improperly secure Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for her boyfriend and his child.
SIU determined Shafer falsified income information and did not follow proper internal controls, resulting in her boyfriend and the child improperly receiving $39,670 in Medicaid benefits, $8,304 in SNAP benefits, and $866 in Prevention, Retention and Contingency Program benefits between November 2018 and April 2021.
Shafer resigned from her position at Richland County JFS in April 2021.
In May, Shafer was sentenced to 30 days in jail, ordered to make restitution of $47,974, and received a suspended prison sentence of 42 months, contingent on the successful completion of 60 months of community control, after she pleaded guilty in March to felony counts of theft in office, illegal use of food stamps, and Medicaid eligibility fraud.
SIU attorneys were appointed as special prosecutors in the case by the Richland County Prosecutor's Office.
Since 2019, the Special Investigations Unit has assisted in 117 convictions resulting in more than $8.2 million in restitution (see?Map of SIU Convictions since January 2019). The team receives hundreds of tips of suspected fraud annually. Tips can be submitted anonymously online or via SIU's fraud hotline at 866-FRAUD-OH (866-372-8364).
The Auditor of State's office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigate,s and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.
Contact: Marc Kovac