A prominent New Jersey rabbi was one of eight people who have been charged in a conspiracy to defraud Medicaid and other public assistance programs of around $1.3million, according to police.
Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, of Lakewood, who runs the synagogue Congregation Lutzk and businesses linked to it, was taken into custody and faces charges of theft by deception.
His wife, Tzipporah, and three other couples were also taken into custody during early morning raids of their homes on Monday morning, reported CBS New York.
It is believed that all four couples made tens of thousands of dollars more a year than they reported to public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, police have said.
The couple were charged in a state court with collecting more than $338,000 in benefits they weren’t entitled to, according to prosecutors.
Also charged were a second couple, Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin, who prosecutors accused of collecting more than $585,000 in benefits.
Sorotzkin’s brother, Mordechai and his wife Rachel were also charged in a federal complaint with one other married couple with fraudulently conspiring to obtain Medicaid benefits.
Specifically, they were charged with trying to obtain Section 8 housing benefits, and food assistance benefits.
Mordechai and Rachel Sorotzkin have been accused of making more than $1million in 2012 and 2013, but using Medicaid to pay for roughly $22,000 in medical expenses when they had their sixth child in November 2013.
The complaint also alleges that another couple, Yocheved and Shimon Nussbaum, hid their income by creating new companies run by relatives ,but under their control.
The couple made an estimated $265,000 in 2011, which is more than double the maximum amount allowed to receive Medicaid benefits. It is also more than triple the maximum to receive Section 8 benefits, according to the complaint.
All four couples appeared in court Monday afternoon.
‘Financial assistance programs are designed to alleviate family hardships for those truly in need,’ Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said in a statement, according to CBS.
‘My office gave clear guidance and notice to the Lakewood community in 2015 of what is considered financial abuse of these programs. Those who choose to ignore those warnings by seeking to illegally profit on the backs of taxpayers will pay the punitive price of their actions,’ the statement continued.
Coronato said more arrests are expected as a result of the investigation, which was initiated by the FBI and the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller.