New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro today announced the arrest of a Niagara Falls woman on charges she stole more than $12,000 in public assistance benefits by fraudulently claiming that her minor children resided in her household.
Maria Kilmer, 40, of Niagara Falls was charged with Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree and multiple counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, all felonies. She was arraigned virtually in Lockport City Court before Hon. William J. Watson.
The Inspector General’s investigation found that between November 2015 and May 2019, Kilmer falsely claimed in her benefit applications that her two minor children were residing in her household in order to receive more money from public assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In fact, Kilmer did not have custody of the minor children, as they were residing with their father, who did have full custody throughout the time period. In addition, Kilmer underreported the household income in one of the applications. As a result of her misrepresentations, Kilmer received more than $12,363 in food stamps and temporary assistance benefits to which she was not entitled.
“Public assistance programs exist to provide crucial help to those truly in need,” said Inspector General Tagliafierro. “We will not abide individuals lying on their applications to steal these important funds.”
Inspector General Tagliafierro thanked the Niagara County Department of Social Services for their assistance in the investigation, the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting the matter and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department for conducting the arrest.
The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.