I-Team: Rhode Island Man Admits to Welfare Fraud, Sentenced to Jail

BOSTON (CBS) – A Rhode Island man admitted to ripping off Massachusetts taxpayers and illegally collecting welfare benefits while living out of state.

Monday’s guilty plea in Bristol County Superior Court means Paul Hession, 46, will spend two years in jail and repay about $9,000 to two state agencies.

Hession was convicted of larceny over $250, public assistance fraud, and making a false statement for medical assistance.

The case was first uncovered by an I-Team investigation in 2015, which obtained documents showing Hession had been living in Rhode Island for several years while continuing to collect public assistance in the Commonwealth.

Paul Hession pleads guilty to fraud (WBZ-TV)

Paul Hession pleads guilty to fraud (WBZ-TV)

In court on Monday, Bristol County prosecutor William Flynn referenced the I-Team report.

Hession was arraigned for the welfare fraud charges in April 2016. Investigators accused him of collecting almost $54,000 in benefits from MassHealth and the Department of Transitional Assistance over a three-year period.

A grand jury indictment later transferred the case to Bristol County Superior Court.

Attleboro resident Stephen Gainer first alerted the I-Team when he started receiving mail addressed to Hession at the condominium he’d owned for seven years.

Gainer said he grew frustrated when he called the state’s fraud hotline, but the suspicious mail kept arriving.

“It was a long road, but I’m delighted that something finally happened,” Gainer told the I-Team on Monday. “In my opinion, I think he got what he deserved. My only disappointment is that I had to go to such great lengths.”

Following the original I-Team report, the case was referred to the Bureau of Special Investigations in the state auditor’s office. According to a spokesman for Auditor Suzanne Bump, her office identified about $306,000 of fraud in the past fiscal year for the allegations of recipients living out of state.

Ryan Kath can be reached at rkath@cbs.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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