88 Rhode Island residents accused of welfare benefits fraud

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62 Rhode Island residents were arrested and 26 are still wanted after police say they illegally obtained public assistance benefits.

Rhode Island State Police said the 88 suspects – 62 who’ve already been arrested – collected approximately $469,000 in public assistance over the past several years after failing to disclose they had outstanding felony warrants against them, which would have prevented them from obtaining benefits.

Police said the warrants ranged from attempted murder and first-degree robbery to felony shoplifting and drug violations.

Col. James Manni, superintendent of the RI State Police, said the arrests send a simple message to all Rhode Islanders.

 “We are cracking down on public assistance fraud…Public assistance, the SNAP program and other state benefits are there for those who need and deserve them. We cannot and will not tolerate abuse of this system,” Manni said.

According to the Department of Administration records, the suspects never reported the outstanding warrants at the time they filed applications for benefits, under penalties of perjury. Federal regulations require all outstanding warrants to be reported on applications for public assistance.

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