5 women charged with welfare fraud The current or former Bucks residents are accused of taking more than $100,000 in benefits they were not entitled to.

Posted: June 06, 2003

Five current or former Bucks County women face welfare-fraud charges after collecting more than $100,000 in child-care benefits they didn't deserve, state officials announced yesterday.

Two of the women were accused of fraudulently collecting money after moving out of the county. Two others allegedly altered employment documents. The fifth is accused of giving false information about her child-care provider.

The amounts they allegedly received could have provided a year of child care for 24 children, according to the state Department of Public Welfare.

About 1,000 welfare-fraud cases involving $4.5 million in benefits were prosecuted in Pennsylvania during fiscal year 2001-2002, said W. Scott Foster, spokesman for the state Office of Inspector General.

"These just happen to be the most recent cases in Bucks," said Foster, whose office investigated the cases. "These are hard economic times, and the child-care moneys are not an endless supply of cash."

Awaiting preliminary hearings this month are Brenda Haynes, 29, of Levittown; Tashanda Harris, 29, of Levittown; Christine Doneker, 29, of Bristol; Aisha Jackson, 24, of Trenton; and Laura Harper, 26, of Lansdale.

Haynes is accused of receiving $36,200 in benefits from December 1999 through March. Officials said she lied when giving information about her child-care provider.

Harris and Doneker allegedly conspired to alter each other's employment records to illegally collect benefits. Harris is accused of receiving $21,300 between January 2002 and March, and Doneker is accused of receiving $14,450 between December 2001 and May 2002.

Jackson, formerly of Levittown, and Harper, formerly of Telford, are accused of failing to tell authorities when they moved from Bucks County into living arrangements that made them ineligible for benefits. Jackson allegedly received $19,150 between April 2002 and February, and Harper is accused of receiving $9,150 between May 2002 and December.

The charges will be prosecuted by the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.

A welfare-fraud conviction carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Contact staff writer Larry King at 215-345-0446 or lking@phillynews.com.

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