Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

May 3, 2013

Welfare fraud lonely job

ONE-WOMAN UNIT: County fights welfare fraud with fewer people.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Welfare Fraud Unit, which has made 19 arrests and placed charges against 23 people this year, has 133 open cases.

Deputy Amanda Irons is the Welfare Fraud Unit. The Lockport area resident took the job as the lone investigator last October. In 2009, there were three investigators at the sheriff’s office. In 2010 there were two. In 2011, it was cut to one.

Like many jobs, more is being expected of less.

“It’s busy,” said Deputy Irons, a veteran of the NCSO who has been on her own as investigator since October. “I have a lot of great support  in Department of Social Services. They’re always there when I need them.” 

“She’s humble,” said Capt. Kristen M. Neubauer who said she is not comfortable with a<\Bz14f”sans-serif”> welfare fraud office with just one person. “The cases are more and more and the personnel are less and less. We’re attacking them the best we can.”

Irons is very good at her job, according to her boss. Irons is rarely at her desk. She goes to Niagara Falls to pick up cases and coordinates her efforts with Cindy Caccese of the Department of Social Services to decide if the report is founded or unfounded. Irons also makes arrests.

Many of the cases stem from anonymous tips.

“Just like any other form law enforcement, we rely on the public to help us out,” said Deputy Charles Baker, a veteran NCSO officer who is now with the Criminal Investigation Unit. “They help us a lot. The more information you give us, the better.”

Baker was one of three members of the Welfare Fraud Unit in 2008. “It’s a busy, busy place,” he said, “We’re proud of what we do. Amanda has done a terrific job.”

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