Greene County woman faces 122 counts of fraud

HUDSON–Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies charged a Greene County woman with a slew of crimes in connection with welfare fraud.

Jessica Marie Roman, 26, of Catskill was charged with one count of third degree welfare fraud, two counts of third degree grand larceny, class D felonies; 29 counts of first degree falsifying business records; 29 counts of filing a false written statement; 29 counts of criminal impersonation, class A misdemeanors; 29 counts of false statements or representations of the state Labor Law, unclassified misdemeanors; one count of petit larceny and fifth degree welfare fraud, both class A misdemeanors, April 14 at 9:26 a.m.

The Columbia County Welfare Fraud Task Force along with members of the Department of Labor Office of Special Investigations began a probe in October 2009 after receiving a complaint that Ms. Roman was allegedly cashing in unemployment benefits for a prison inmate who was no longer entitled to receive benefits.

Calls about the situation were received on the Columbia County Welfare Fraud and Crimes Tips Hotline, according to Sheriff David Harrison Jr.

As a result of the investigation, officials allege that Ms. Roman stole more than $20,000 by “being deceitful” in obtaining benefits from both the Columbia County Department of Social Services and the state Department of Labor.

She was arraigned in Hudson City Court before Judge Richard Koweek and sent to the county jail in lieu of $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bail bond.

Sheriff’s Office Investigator John Rivero, Department of Social Services Welfare Fraud Investigator Josh Ryder, other DSS staff and Senior Assistant District Attorney David Costanzo all assisted in the investigation.

In a press release, Sheriff Harrison thanked the people who made calls to the hotline and others who assisted in the investigation of the crimes. He emphasized that public assistance is provided for those who need it. The task force will be looking for those who are obtaining it illegally, he said.

In other Welfare Fraud Task Force news, five women were charged March 5.

They are:

*Christina Santiago, 26, of Brooklyn, two counts each of third degree welfare fraud, a class D felony; third degree grand larceny, a class D felony and first degree offering a false written statement, a class E felony

*Valerie J. Marshall, 28, formerly of Hillsdale, currently of Dover Plains, one count each of fourth degree grand larceny and fourth degree welfare fraud, both class E felonies

*Melissa M. Contartesi, 30, of Greenport, three counts of first degree offering a false written statement for filing, class E felonies, one count each of third degree welfare fraud and third degree grand larceny

*Betty Ann Race, 39, of Hudson, fifth degree welfare fraud and petit larceny, class A misdemeanors

*Mary Kastner, 35, of Hudson, two counts each of petit larceny and fifth degree welfare fraud; second degree criminal use of a benefit card, all class A misdemeanors.

Ms. Sanitago is accused of stealing $11,172.34, Ms. Marshall $1,807, Ms. Contratesi $4,228, Ms. Race $241 and Ms. Kastner $160.

Arraigned in Hudson City Court before Judge Richard Koweek, Ms. Kastner and Ms. Race were released on their own recognizance.

The other three defendants were sent to the county jail, Ms. Santiago in lieu of $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bail bond; Ms. Marshall in lieu of $1,000 cash bail or $2,000 bail bond; and Ms. Contartesi in lieu of $1,500 cash bail or $3,000 bail bond.

All defendants were directed to return to City Court at a later time. Sheriff’s Investigator John Rivero and Deputy Travis VanAlstyne made the arrests.

Sheriff Harrison said in a press release that since the task force started in April 2009, Columbia County has realized a savings of $186,462.

In another case, William A. Brooks Sr., 47, of Hudson was charged with fourth degree welfare fraud, fourth degree grand larceny and first degree filing a false written Instrument, all class E felonies, after he turned himself in to Deputy Peter Grzeskow and Investigator John Rivero, March 16 at 8:23 a.m.

Mr. Brooks allegedly stole $1,538 in public assistance from the Department of Social Services. Arraigned in Hudson City Court before Judge Koweek, Mr. Brooks was sent to the county jail without bail pending further court action.

Anyone with information about individuals or companies illegally obtaining public assistance is asked to call the Welfare Fraud Task Force hot line at (518) 822-8477.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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