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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Westchester Lawyer-District Attorney Accused of Welfare Fraud

DA improperly got her maid welfare: probe
The New York Post - EXCLUSIVE - by Chuck Bennett - May 29, 2012

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore pulled strings to get her family’s live-in housekeeper food stamps, cash assistance and Medicaid benefits, according to an internal report from the county’s Department of Social Services. For the past year, Social Services has been probing how DiFiore’s housekeeper was suddenly approved for welfare benefits after having been previously denied three times for inconsistencies in her applications, The Post has learned. “Okay we got to the bottom of this case. This was a political favor for Janet DiFiore’s maid. It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE,” Dhyalma Vazquez, a county anti-fraud investigator, wrote in an internal e-mail June 30, 2011. Vazquez, who also chairs the Yonkers Independence Party, alleged in the e-mail to Department of Social Services Commissioner Kevin McGuire that DiFiore’s housekeeper, Jamaican immigrant Marina Buchanan, should never have received benefits. In a series of e-mails from June and July of last year, Vazquez claimed that DiFiore, a Republican-turned- Democrat, had Buchanan’s case file improperly re-opened after the Yonkers branch office denied benefits. Buchanan, 58, was paid $200 a week in cash by DiFiore and got $315 a month in Social Security disability benefits, according to documents obtained by The Post. It is unclear from the documents if Social Security taxes were paid on Buchanan’s wages. Buchanan, who claimed she was a nanny and housekeeper for DiFiore since 1987, also didn’t disclose receiving the Social Security disability benefits while still working up to 18 hours a week for the DA. Further, she had a credit card with a $55,000 limit, sources said, yet still sought county benefits. “The question is why the special favor. Why are cases being opened in Central Office . . . Just because she is the District Attorney does not mean she is above the law!” Vazquez wrote. County investigators are looking at the actions of a former Social Services official who is active in local Democratic politics, sources said. Reached by phone, Vazquez, who has been with Social Services for 20 years, cited the ongoing investigation and declined to comment. DiFiore’s spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, said, “It is a personal issue that is related to her and her husband and I can’t comment.” Her three children are now all in their 20s. It’s unclear if Buchanan still works for DiFiore, who was first elected DA in 2005. Buchanan, who could not be reached for comment, wrote in documents that she left the DA’s employ in May 2010. chuck.bennett@nypost.com

11 comments:

insider said...

If anyone is really interested in corruption then you must start in Westchester County- the 'brain' trust of ALL corruption in New York State.

Anonymous said...

Scheiderman and Cuomo in car 54, where are you? An honest Governor would ask his AG to investigate and prosecute as allowed under the NY Constitution. Are lawyers, or Democrat DA's, or your cronies entitled to government corruption benefit cards for "Get Out of Jail Free and No Prosecution" cards?

Anonymous said...

Remember in December Cuomo's announcement?

"Governor Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Appoint Members to The Joint Commission on Public Ethics"

""The Joint Commission on Public Ethics is an independent monitor that will aggressively investigate corruption and help maintain integrity in state government," Governor Cuomo said. "I am confident that under the leadership of Chair DiFiore and the other board members, the Commission will be the toughest ethics enforcer in our state's history."


He certainly didn't have to go to far to start any investigation.

Anonymous said...

@8:05 This needs criminal prosecution, not ethics pronouncements. Cuomo has the Constitutional power and the responsibility to direct the AG in this criminal matter to convene a Grand Jury, investigate, and indict based upon evidence presented. Any less is a cover-up and delaying process.

Searching For Rule Of Law In America said...

"This needs criminal prosecution, not ethics pronouncements. Cuomo has the Constitutional power and the responsibility to direct the AG in this criminal matter to convene a Grand Jury, investigate, and indict based upon evidence presented. "

there ya go... that's exactly what needs to happen...

--Michael A. Hense is Searching For Rule Of Law

victim of West DA said...

Has Jeannine Pirro chimed in yet? Pirro brougt corruption in Westchester to a new level. In fairness, Janet is only half as corrupt Ms. Pirro.

Anonymous said...

THE JOURNAL NEWS-
Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore says Department of Social Services probe is politically motivated

WHITE PLAINS — Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore denied doing anything wrong Tuesday, after a report claimed that the Department of Social Services is probing whether she pulled strings to get her family’s live-in housekeeper food stamps, Medicaid benefits and cash assistance.

According to the report, published in The New York Post, Dhyalma Vazquez, a county anti-fraud investigator who also chairs the Yonkers Independence Party, alleged in a June 30, 2010 e-mail” to the DSS Comissioner that DiFiore’s housekeeper, Marina Buchanan, should not have received the benefits. But DiFiore said Tuesday that she was innocent, and accused Vazquez of having bad motives. “I’ve done nothing wrong in any respect,” DiFiore said in a statement. “The person quoted in this illegally leaked email has a well known political agenda that she has been carrying on against me for at least a decade and this appears to be more of the same.” “Okay we got to the bottom of this case,” Dhyalma Vazquez, a county anti-fraud investigator, allegedly wrote in an internal email to the DSS commissioner on June 30, 2010. “This was a political favor for Janet DiFiore’s maid. It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.”The Post states it obtained several leaked documents. Vazquez claimed that DiFiore, a Democrat, had Buchanan’s case file improperly reopened after the Yonkers branch of DSS denied benefits. Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for DiFiore’s office, would not comment further. County spokeswoman Donna Green would not comment on the Post story, she said, “even to confirm any of the particulars, because if somebody is a social service client, that’s a confidential piece of information. And law enforcement investigations, if one existed is also confidential.”

Anonymous said...

Where does her hubby Dennis come into this picture? He is a partner at Davis Polk and likes to tell people that he really runs the Westchester DA's Office! Who runs the home in Bronxville?

Anonymous said...

to 9:48

While I don't doubt that she has been involved in criminal activities, making phone calls and calling in favors probably doesn't qualify.

But what is interesting is today's NY Post states:

"Gov. Cuomo’s hand-crafted ethics watchdog — the Joint Commission on Public Ethics — has gotten off to a pretty shaky start.

Now, to top things off, it turns out the commission’s chair is herself under an ethical cloud.

No surprise there: After all, this is Albany we’re talking about."


Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/albany_ethics_again_PvddUF6bCoyW3xuaBhhfmN#ixzz1wMUvAqMA



Wonder if they've been reading this blog?

Anonymous said...

And a big thank you should go out to Dhyalma Vazquez who has been able to finally bring some light to the corruption that goes on in this state.

Maybe Dhyalma Vazquez would be interested is learning about the corruption that goes on in the courts?


"The investigator in question, Dhyalma Vazquez, just happens to chair the Yonkers Independence Party.
And DiFiore, who insists she’s “done nothing wrong in any respect,” charged yesterday that Vazquez “has a well-known political agenda that she has been carrying on against me for at least a decade.”


Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/albany_ethics_again_PvddUF6bCoyW3xuaBhhfmN#ixzz1wMVwsJye

Baker said...

@8:05 This needs criminal prosecution, not ethics pronouncements. Cuomo has the Constitutional power and the responsibility to direct the AG in this criminal matter to convene a Grand Jury, investigate, and indict based upon evidence presented. Any less is a cover-up and delaying process.

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