Reporting Joe Shortsleeve
BOSTON (CBS) – Public benefits like housing, healthcare and food stamps are supposed to be for people who really need them, not people making hundreds of thousands of dollars. But over the past year, investigators from the State Auditors’ office have found just that. Investigators say at least two big time lottery winners are bilking the state out of thousands in public benefits.
Frank Basile of Waltham should be smiling. He has won more than $300,000 from the state lottery in four years. Now he is charged with defrauding taxpayers by applying for and accepting state medical welfare benefits worth more than $16,000.
He showed up in court without a lawyer telling the judge, “I thought this was some kind of mistake.”
The Lottery suspects Frank Basile is a “ten percenter”, someone who cashes winning lottery tickets for other people and keeps ten percent. Investigators will tell you there are number of people out there who don’t want to pay back child support and or back taxes.
“That is ridiculous,” says Basile. “There is no such thing. The charges should be dismissed.”
Today’s charges against Basile and another man are the result of a yearlong investigation by State Auditors’ Office searching for fraud in the state’s public assistance programs.
Auditor Suzanne Bump says, “If you are receiving those kinds of cash windfalls and not disclosing it to the proper agencies, in this case MassHealth, then that is criminal fraud.”
The Auditors’ office is now checking regularly to make sure big time lottery winners are not asking for the public’s help when it comes to food stamps, healthcare and housing.
Bump says, “Literally it takes money out of the system for people who could use it and then it undermines public confidence over the long term. So it is important that we go after these individuals.”
A second individual was also due in court today. 42-year-old James Casey of Belmont cashed in more than $700,000 in winning lottery tickets over three years, yet he applied for and received $1,500 dollars in food stamps and $12,000 in MassHealth benefits.
He will be in court June 5th.