The Michigan Senate has passed two bills, SB 384 and SB 385 that make about as much sense as hiring pedophiles as kindergarten teachers. These bills would arm and give arrest powers to welfare investigators.
The Michigan welfare department, Department of Health and Human Services, has a bureau called the Office of Inspector General. Investigators with OIG receive referrals from welfare workers when people are believed to have committed welfare fraud. Usually “welfare fraud” consists of working a few hours a week under the table and not telling the worker or not reporting a joint bank account. In the usual case, the recipient’s benefits are cut until the Department has been repaid. If there is a prosecution, it is a misdemeanor or low-level felony that results in probation.
The routine nature of these prosecutions is shown by the way they are often handled. The workers refer suspected fraud cases to the investigators. They, in turn, develop a paper case and send it to the county prosecuting attorney. In small counties, the cases are handled one by one. In heavily populated counties, the prosecutors may summon 25 or 30 welfare cheats at a time to court. They plead guilty en masse and are marched down to probation. There they agree to repay the state and sign up for community service.
There are more serious crimes that could be classed as welfare fraud. Medicaid recipients often procure prescriptions that they sell on the street or to illegal drug dealers. Bodegas and small grocery stores buy large quantities of food assistance benefits for cash at a discount. However, the drug offenses would be handled by local, state or federal drug police and businesses that deal in food assistance fraud would be pursued by organized-crime or anti-terrorism investigators.
Investigators in the Office of Inspector General do not need to carry guns and do not need to arrest people. Furthermore, great harm will come from arming them and allowing them to arrest suspects with no warrant, as is explained in “OIG Investigators with Guns.”
John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2015 John B. Payne, Attorney