A Target 11 investigation uncovered a local couple accused of cheating the welfare system out of more than $120,000 in six years.
Target 11 investigator Rick Earle shows how easy it might be to cheat the system.
According to court documents, one of the defendants made up some paperwork and cashed in.
When confronted by Target 11, Angela Kilbert denied illegally obtaining food stamps, LIHEAP and medical benefits.
However, investigators said Kilbert and her husband, John, devised an elaborate scheme to defraud the welfare system.
According to the criminal complaint, Angela Kilbert first applied for food stamps in 2005. At the time, she said she worked part time and was separated from her husband, with whom she had four kids, making her eligible for welfare.
For six years Kilbert got more than $123,000 in food stamps, medical benefits and utility payments. She collected until the IRS discovered she was working full-time.
Investigators said Kilbert falsified employment letters and, during some of the six years, actually worked full time at UPMC McKeesport Hospital. Authorities also said she and her husband lived together the entire time, which would have made her ineligible.
"My husband and I were not together at the time," Kilbert said
attorney, David Shrager, said his client was off-and-on with her husband.
"These aren't people who sat around and hatched a plot to get rich on other people's workings," Shrager said. "They would reconcile for a while and then split up again. That happened for quite some
time, and we can prove that."
Target 11 discovered the Kilbert case is one of more than 1,000 welfare fraud cases opened in Pennsylvania during the past two years.
Allegheny County has the most, 105, followed by Westmoreland County with 51, Beaver with 38, Fayette with 31, Butler with 22 and Washington with
Target 11 calculated the fraud costs the taxpayer almost $4 million across Pennsylvania.
Representative Daryl Metcalfe, of Cranberry, has co-sponsored legislation targeting welfare fraud, including a new income eligibility verification system that all welfare recipients must pass.
"There is a lot of welfare fraud that's going
undetected, and we need to crack down," Metcalfe said. "Within the next year, we want another law that would require a more strenuous check."
Metcalfe plans to hear back on the legislation by June.