The Mesa County Department of Human Services (MCDHS) Fraud and Recovery Unit in combination with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office sent a case of suspected fraud to the Mesa County District Attorney’s office, totaling approximately $30,000 involving the following programs, Food Assistance, Medicaid, LEAP and the USDA School Lunch program. An additional, $1,412.07 in administrative costs is associated with the investigation for a total restitution of $30,931.68. The fraud occurred from 8/1/13 through1 /31/16. The fraud suspect, Miriah Verzani was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 5 years probation, she is required to pay full restitution and is disqualified from receiving Food Assistance benefits for 12 months. Verzani was sentenced on January 3, 2017.
Verzani intentionally forged rental lease agreements to remove her spouse who is also the father of her children, resulting in failing to report her spouse’s income. Additionally, she forged lease agreements to inflate her obligated rent expense. Further, Verzani added others to her lease who did not reside with her. All of these actions lead to Verzani receiving more public assistance than her household was eligible for.
Intentionally defrauding public assistance programs consists of falsely reporting information on an application including household composition, household resources or household income. Punishment for these crimes includes: repayment of benefits issued and may result in a 1-year to lifetime, ban from receiving public assistance benefits and/or criminal prosecution.
“Our Fraud and Recovery team takes investigating false information on public assistance applications very seriously.” said Tracey Garchar, Executive Director for the Mesa County Department of Human Services. “Ensuring benefits go to families who are truly eligible and in need is our utmost priority” added Garchar.
If you or someone you know suspects welfare fraud, please call the Mesa County Department of Human Services Welfare Fraud Hotline at (970) 256-2421.