Lakewood Orthodox welfare cheats are offered an amnesty

Published by carolyn on Thu, 2017-10-19 17:28

By Carolyn Yeager

HAVE YOU WONDERED WHAT HAPPENED in the Lakewood NJ welfare fraud scandal? Amnesty!

The New Jersey state comptroller's office [Philip Degnan at left] has designed an amnesty program to deal with the Orthodox Jews who, out of the 50,000 now living in Lakewood, applied for and took Medicaid benefits that they were not fully entitled to. Recall that in June and July, 26 Orthodox Jews (all married couples) were arrested for taking more than $2 million in public assistance they weren't entitled to. They included a prominent rabbi and his brother, business owners, and students at the local yeshivas.

After these 26, the arrests stopped and the shocked township residents waited to see what would happen next. I posted about this unique American story on five different occasions, on July 1, July 5, July 13, July 21 and July 30. Then I, too, waited.

Finally, I have some follow-up for you and it's what we would expect. State Comptroller Philip Degnan's office developed an amnesty program that critics say caters to Lakewood's Orthodox community. You can see and hear Degnan speak of the program on the video at the top of this page.

“We’ve offered this program because, based on our Medicaid fraud investigations in Ocean County, we believe there may be a larger problem in that county. This is an opportunity to bring a significant number of people into compliance. That's our goal."

What makes Ocean County different from every other county in New Jersey is the large number of ultra-orthodox Jews living there, around 50,000 at last count. As was made clear in my previous articles, they are there because the largest Yeshiva in the world outside of Israel is located there. And that yeshiva is also the cause for so much welfare money to flow to the families of the thousands of men who attend the yeshiva while their wives have babies and take care of their young families.

“We have not seen this in any other state. As far as we know, it’s a fairly unique program."

Sure it is. Designed especially for the unique situation existing in Lakewood. The program, called the Ocean County Medicaid Recipient Voluntary Disclosure Pilot Program, stipulates that participants will be required to:

1) Repay Medicaid for the benefits they received while ineligible;

2) Pay an additional civil penalty based on the amount of improperly received benefits (most, if not all, will pay only $1000);

3) Voluntarily withdraw from Medicaid for a one-year period.

The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office has affirmed it will not take action against amnesty program participants who comply with these settlement terms.

So they are not getting off scott-free, or even with a slap on the wrist, as some townspeople are saying. I believe these Jews are going to find it painful, psychologically, to pay back what they wrongly took and pay a fine, but even more so to lay off Medicaid for a year. They or their lawyers will probably wrangle with the bureaucrats to get it reduced! Just imagine all the varied sob stories these Jews will come up with! I sure hope the state doesn't agree to any delayed payment arrangements, which could become expensive.

Degnan, in an emailed statement, said his office's Medicaid Fraud Division "was solely responsible for conceiving of and developing" the amnesty program. Degnan said officials met with the Vaad (the powerful Jewish Council that represents the Lakewood orthodox community) and also had meetings with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ocean County Board of Social Services, and representatives of other prosecutor’s offices and law enforcement agencies. The program is only open to residents of Ocean County, the home of Lakewood. State officials conceded it's the first time such an undertaking has been targeted to a specific area.

The program will run three months. It is not open to those who previously entered into a settlement with the state, or who are subjects of a pending state or county criminal matter. The first meeting was held on Sept. 16 at the 3,200-seat Pine Belt Arena in Toms River billed as an amnesty "informational" program. Prior to the meeting, the Vaad publicly endorsed the program. The state was prepared for a large turn-out, but only 40 people showed up!

Obviously, the culprits don't want to show themselves in a public venue. A program application form and instructions, along with a sample settlement agreement, is posted on the Office of the State Comptroller's website at Applications must be sent in no later than Dec. 12. Many are probably weighing their options and waiting until closer to the deadline to decide whether to apply.

The non-Jews of the town are not happy

Local African-American and Latino community leaders said no one reached out to them.

State officials admitted that the only community group they met with as they formed the amnesty program was the Vaad, the Jewish council that runs the Orthodox community. The Vaad had from the start of the scandal been seeking to downplay the law-breaking and “work out” the problems of “possible misunderstanding of the rules” their people may have had in applying for public assistance.

Pastor Glenn Wilson [right], whose church congregation is mostly Blacks and Latinos from Lakewood, doesn't believe that. He said: “Amnesty is something you give to people who don’t know they were making a mistake. I have the same sense that the general public has that Medicaid fraud is probably not often done by mistake. I know of people who were denied services for programs just by being over an income limit by a few dollars. The rules weren’t bent for them or by them."

Another Black complained that she had seen a poor black woman and an orthodox Jew both paying for their groceries with a “food stamp” card, for similar amounts, but the orthodox Jewess had driven away from the store in a Lexus, while the black lady had to use a taxi. “People who own a Lexus don't need the government to pay for their food,” she said.

"I am sorry but these people knew exactly what they were doing,'' said a Facebook user, posting to the Asbury Park Press account. "They should go to jail, pay back the money they STOLE, not be allowed ever to receive public assistance. I have a disabled husband who is denied services who has been an honest hardworking man his whole life and can't get help. Shame on these people. This just really upsets me.''

Vaad leaders didn't address questions about the group's role in the planning in an emailed statement they sent out. "The program continues to have the Vaad's support as another tool to encourage greater compliance with the program's rules," said Vaad spokesman Rabbi Moshe Weisberg. Without doubt, Jewish leaders certainly want their community to be able to continue to receive public assistance in every possible form—that is the only way their type of community, where husbands go to Yeshiva full-time until at least age 30, while also raising 3-5 young children, can function. One would think the Yeshiva would be free or very low cost, since it is practically a requirement for male orthodox Jews, but instead it charges a tuition comparable to an ivy-league university! The students are eligible for government Pell grants and other scholarship money to cover the high tuition. So the use of public welfare is a way to have the goyim community of the entire state (and nation) pay the high cost of the ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish way of life.

Only in America.


This is disgusting news.  I'm glad I'm not alone in finding that "Amnesty for Lakewood Medicaid cheats is a crime in itself."
Philip Degnan seems to think he can be the Gov. Jerry Brown of Lakewood, NJ allowing criminals to run free with minimal penalties.