Cayuga DA: Scipio duo received thousands illegally, face felony welfare fraud charges

Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann announced on Monday that two Cayuga County residents were arrested and charged after a years-long investigation into welfare fraud.

Rhea J. Peck, 30, and Patrick C. Stotler, 33, both of Scipio were charged with third-degree welfare fraud, third-degree grand larceny, six counts of first-degree filing a false instrument for filing, third-degree identity theft, as well as a number of misdemeanor charges.

Budelmann says Peck failed to report and notify the Cayuga County Department of Social Services her residency status, that a man who was living with her had income, and her total household income.

The District Attorney says that she sold $30,000 in gold, but failed to report any of the income. As result of the illegal activity, the duo received $15,000 in benefits that they were not entitled.

Additionally, Strotler was observed illegally using Peck’s SNAP benefits card on multiple occasions.

District Attorney Jon E. Budelmann said, “These defendants violated the public’s trust, illegally under reporting Ms. Peck’s actual income to the Department of Social Services, thereby collecting taxpayer money designated for those citizens who truly need public assistance.”

These arrests were a culmination of a lengthy, two year investigation by Investigators from the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Department, Cayuga County Department of Social Services Case Integrity Division and Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office.

This investigation continues and anyone with pertinent information may contact Investigator Robert Franklin, Cayuga County Sheriff’s Department (315) 253-1132 or Investigator Fred Whitsett of the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office at (315) 253-1391. Anonymous information can be submitted to Cayugacrime.com.

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