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posted on June 03, 2014 15:34

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             DATE: June 3, 2014

Contact:
Tom Shanahan
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0668

Meridian Woman Receives Jail Sentence and Ordered to Repay
$8,204 for Public Assistance Fraud

Shawna Bishop, 41, of Meridian, pleaded guilty to felony grand theft and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 20 hours of community service, four years probation and ordered to repay the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) $8,204 for receiving public assistance benefits she was not eligible for.

Bishop failed to report her husband Michael Bishop’s employment and income for Food Stamp benefits between December 2011 and January 2013, which would have made the family ineligible to participate in the program. Even though Bishop repeatedly provided false information regarding her husband’s employment, automated interfaces alerted state eligibility workers of the possible fraud, who referred the case to the DHW Welfare Fraud Unit for investigation. Bishop was sentenced on May 15.

“With the electronic verifications available today, it is pretty difficult for people to hide income to commit fraud,” says Ben Johnson, welfare fraud investigations supervisor.  “These are taxpayer dollars so it is important for all of us to be vigilant and protect the integrity of Idaho public assistance programs.”

The DHW Welfare Fraud Unit investigates an average of 2,400 cases each year, and typically recoups $650,000 in fraudulent benefits. 

If people know of someone committing fraud they can visit www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov and click the blue button that says “Report Public Assistance Fraud,” call the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1 or email welfraud@dhw.idaho.gov .