Woman Is Charged In 140g Relief Scam

Posted: April 18, 2000

The "Welfare Queen" has been dethroned.

Cops yesterday arrested Deborah Chisom, 40, after a domestic dispute at a B Street home, and discovered an outstanding warrant against her.

The warrant, obtained last month by the district attorney's office, charges Chisom, 40, with ripping off the welfare system for $140,000 over 10 years.

District Attorney Lynne Abraham said the case represents "the largest individual welfare fraud" in the city's history.

Abraham and state Inspector General Robert J. DeSousa said Chisom, of Diamond Street near 19th, collected welfare benefits for herself and her six children, even though the kids have been living with their aunt in Cleveland since 1989.

"Ms. Chisom submitted applications to caseworkers and listed six children as members of her household," according to Assistant District Attorney Peter Berson.

The benefits were in the form of cash and food stamps.

Chisom is charged with welfare fraud and theft by deception, both felonies. Each charge carries a possible sentence of 31/2 to 7 years in prison.

The aunt has provided investigators with a statement confirming that the children have been living with her.

Last year, the DA's office thought they had cracked the biggest welfare scam by arresting a mother for ripping off the system for $80,000 in a similar scheme. That woman is awaiting trial.

During the year, 748 cases of welfare fraud were prosecuted, totaling $2,038,348 in fraudulently obtained benefits.

The city's Probation Department collected a total of $533,207 in restitution after earlier cases landed before judges.

Each year, the restitution number climbs higher.

The Office of Inspector General is responsible for investigating welfare fraud and conducting collection activities administered by the Department of Public Welfare.

The office relies on tips from citizens. Anyone with information about suspected fraud should call the welfare-fraud tip line at 1-800-932-0582.

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