Former DHS staffer pleads guilty to welfare fraud

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan today announced a Southeast Michigan woman charged with fraudulently obtaining state financial assistance while she worked at the Department of Human Services has pled guilty to two felonies.  Dawn Simmons, 46, of Belleville, Michigan, pleaded guilty on May 15, 2013 to one count of False Pretenses ($1,000 – $20,000), and one count of Fraudulent Access to a Computer, both five year felonies, before Judge Archie C. Brown in Washtenaw County’s 22nd Circuit Court.  As part of the plea agreement, Simmons is required to pay $19,832.74 in restitution to the state.

“Any public servants who abuse the public trust to defraud the Michigan taxpayers will be held accountable,” said Schuette.  “We will continue to work with Director Corrigan to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse, wherever it is found.”

“Our efforts to combat fraud and abuse involving taxpayer dollars have been stepped up, “said Corrigan. “That abuse is especially troubling when it involves a public servant, but working with our partners at the Attorney General’s office, we will be diligent in eliminating it.”

The investigation into the suspected criminal activities of Ms. Simmons was initiated and conducted by the Special Investigations Unit of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Human Services. Through that investigation, later turned over to the Attorney General for criminal prosecution, it was discovered that:

From September 2009 through February 2012, Simmons abused her position as an Eligibility Specialist to process false claims for assistance in her brother’s name, who she listed as a resident at her home address.  Investigation revealed the brother never lived at the address.  Simmons filed the claims on co-workers’ computers without their knowledge after logging in with their usernames and passwords.  Simmons ultimately collected $19,832.74 in fraudulently obtained benefits, which she used for to pay rent and utilities at her apartment.

Simmons was placed on unpaid leave following the filing of criminal charges on December 12, 2012.

Simmons is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Archie C. Brown on June 26, 2013 at 1:30P.M.