W-B Area teacher accused of welfare fraud

By Ed Lewis - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — An arrest warrant was issued Monday for a Wilkes-Barre Area school teacher on charges she received public assistance that she was not entitled due to her income.

The state Office of Inspector General charged Jennifer Yelen, 35, of Courtright Street, Plains Township, with a single count of false statements. A warrant was issued by District Judge Thomas Malloy in Wilkes-Barre.

According to the criminal complaint:

Yelen completed an application for public assistance in December 2015, reporting she was employed as a substitute teacher for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.

Yelen was provided medical assistance and supplemental nutrition assistance due to her income.

Nutrition assistance benefits ended for Yelen on June 30, 2016, but her medical assistance benefits renewed on Nov. 21, 2016. When Yelen’s medical assistance benefits were renewed, she was sent a notice to report any household changes to include household size and income.

Yelen allegedly failed to contact the state assistance office.

Yelen completed an online application for public assistance and conducted an telephone interview with a state caseworker on Aug. 14, 2017. Yelen again reported she was a substitute teacher for Wilkes-Barre Area and her employment ended June 9, 2017. She provided her last pay stub dated July 25, 2017.

During a face-to-face interview with a caseworker on Aug. 30, 2017, Yelen reported no changes to her household.

The state assistance office in March received a wage report from the school district that allegedly showed Yelen was a full-time teacher and received a lump sum payment that included pay from March 10, 2017 to Aug. 25, 2017.

The complaint alleges the lump sum payment Yelen received was above the federal poverty income guidelines.

Yelen allegedly failed to report the lump sum payment and was not entitled to receive $615 in cash assistance from Aug. 1, 2017 to Oct. 31, 2017, $109 in nutrition assistance from Aug. 14, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2017, and medical assistance in the amount of $2,357.21 from March 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2017, the complaint says.

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By Ed Lewis

[email protected]