Thursday, January 26, 2017

Substance use while breastfeeding IS child abuse


Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is okay for your baby


The Mesa County Department of Human Services Child Welfare and the Health Department want to remind new mothers that marijuana, narcotics, alcohol and tobacco use has an impact on breastfeeding babies. Substance use while breastfeeding is considered child abuse and can be reported.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that mothers who are breastfeeding their babies should not use marijuana. Breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the baby and the mother. The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana gets into breast milk and will likely affect your baby.

According to Child Welfare Supervisor Lynette Overmeyer beside the direct, chemical effects of marijuana on a baby, use of marijuana may affect a mother’s ability to be able to properly care for her baby. Additionally, Overmeyer states, “In Child Welfare we consider a mother using marijuana and breastfeeding her baby as child abuse.”

Marijuana can cause lethargy in the baby, which can lead to slow weight gain and possibly slow overall development in the baby long term. The THC in the marijuana impacts the baby’s brain development.  In addition, babies whose mothers smoke marijuana or tobacco regularly have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Karla Klemm, Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Manager, adds "Even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, it doesn't mean it is safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding."


Both agencies encourage mothers to seek help with breastfeeding through WIC with the Mesa County Health Department.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Human Services Welfare Fraud Case Sentenced

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.