Speak Up


Sometimes, you can get into trouble for speaking up, but there also are times when you can find yourself in a predicament by keeping your mouth shut. An article posted on CBSNews.com describes how a Pennsylvania man is accused of neglecting to explain to welfare officials that he collected more than $206,000 in natural gas royalties while receiving food stamps and public assistance.

The story states that the man’s mother had willed him a natural gas well. (Thanks Mom for providing a steady source of income!) He signed a lease agreement with a drilling company to split 15 percent of the oil and gas production income. According to the article, the man is accused of assigning 7.5 percent of the royalties to other people and claimed no income on his public assistance application because he was out of work due to a health condition. (I wonder what happened to the other 7.5 percent.)

The 50-year-old man, who claimed that his sister paid all of his living expenses, received $1,700 in public assistance to help pay for his utility bills. The article reports he neglected to report the royalty income on his state assistance application.

Although this man is charged with fraudulently obtaining food stamps and public assistance by omitting key information on his benefit application, he is innocent until proven guilty. At his upcoming court date, he and his lawyer will have to decide whether it behooves him to speak up about the allegations. In any event, this case provides a simple lesson: welfare claimants need to report all income on their public assistance applications.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Pa. Man Charged with Welfare Fraud After Collecting $206K in Natural Gas Royalties,” published by CBSNews.com on July 30, 2014.

A Pennsylvania man who got $1,700 in public assistance to help pay for his utility bills somehow forgot to mention to welfare officials that he also collected more than $206,000 in royalties from a natural gas drilling operation.

John Basista, 50, of Sewickley Township, is accused of not saying anything about the money when he applied for state assistance, reports CBS News affiliate KDKA. In a court affidavit, an official for the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General said that he claimed his sister paid his living expenses because he couldn’t, according to the Pittsburg Tribune-Review.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.