A half-dozen people have been sentenced for welfare fraud since the end of November, the Attorney General's Office said.
Six convicted as
hot line aids crackdown
on welfare fraud
Many of them were caught because someone turned them in to a welfare fraud hot line.
Honolulu resident Lipiia Fiamate, 36, was sentenced on one count of first-degree theft in a welfare housing fraud case last week.
Circuit Judge Gail Nakatani placed Fiamate on five years' probation.
Also, he was ordered to pay $41,382 in restitution to the state, perform 150 hours of community service and maintain full-time employment.
Fiamate fraudulently obtained housing accommodations in an apartment rented to his wife by concealing his presence and his income from housing authorities, the state said.
Fiamate was earning as much as $60,000 a year and living in a state-subsidized rental unit, the state said. Someone turned in Fiamate to the welfare fraud hot line after his wife purchased a new sport utility vehicle last year.
Anyone having information on welfare fraud is asked to call the hot line at 587-1795.
CALL TO EXPOSE
His wife, Peninatautele, 34, was found guilty in federal court in what the state said was the largest case of welfare fraud ever discovered in Hawaii.
In another welfare case, Circuit Judge Marie Milks sentenced Hauula resident Elmerine Kalau, 39, on one count of second-degree theft on Dec. 26.
Kalau was placed on probation for five years and ordered to pay $7,721 in restitution to the state. Also, she was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and obtain and maintain full-time employment while on probation.
She is said to have fraudulently obtained welfare benefits by concealing the fact that her minor children were no longer living with her. An anonymous caller reported the fraud to the welfare fraud hot line.
Circuit Judge Wilfred Watanabe sentenced former Honolulu resident Leeann Anies, 39, on one count of first-degree theft on Dec. 20. Watanabe gave her five years' probation and ordered her to repay the state $74,043, perform 150 hours of community service and obtain and maintain full-time employment.
She concealed for five years from welfare authorities that her husband was employed and living in her household. An anonymous caller reported the fraud.
On Dec. 19, Circuit Judge Sandra Simms sentenced Kapolei resident Larissa Nakasone on one count of first-degree theft. Nakasone, 30, was given five years' probation, ordered to repay the state $60,237 and told to perform 100 hours' community service and obtain and maintain full-time employment.
For three years, she concealed from authorities that her husband was employed. She forged his signature on welfare applications and monthly eligibility reports, the state said. A vigilant income maintenance worker was credited with discovering the fraud.
On Nov. 30, Circuit Judge Michael Town sentenced Honolulu resident Gardiner Smith III, 37, to concurrent five-year terms in prison after he entered guilty pleas to two counts of second-degree theft. He also was ordered to make $7,459 in restitution to the state.
The fraud came to light when Smith called the welfare fraud hot line from prison to report that his girlfriend was using his electronic benefits transfer card without his permission.
Investigation revealed that Smith turned in his girlfriend because she refused to be his sponsor to gain him an early release from prison. Investigation also revealed that Smith had concealed from the welfare department that his new residence was a state correctional facility, bringing about the welfare charges against him.
Among other cases, Circuit Judge Richard Perkins sentenced Honolulu resident Louella Hernandez, 32, for one count of welfare fraud and one count of first-degree theft on Nov. 29.
She was placed on one year of probation on the misdemeanor welfare fraud charge and on concurrent five-year probation terms for the felony theft charge. Additionally, she was ordered to pay $40,548.12 to the state in restitution and serve one year in jail. She may be released early if she is accepted into residential substance-abuse treatment.
She concealed from welfare authorities that she received Social Security survivor benefits for two of her minor children and that her husband was living in the household and employed. An income maintenance worker detected the fraud.