A Medford woman has been indicted in connection with fraudulently collecting more than $161,000 in state and federal benefits, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today. She allegedly fraudulently collected benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, MassHealth, and the Supplemental Security Income Disability program. Her husband was also indicted for his involvement with the scheme.
“We allege that this defendant, with the help of her husband, fraudulently collected tens of thousands of dollars in state and federal benefits,” AG Coakley said. “These benefits are intended to assist those truly in need, and schemes that defraud taxpayer dollars undermine the integrity of the system.”
Stacie Coviello-Hickey, age 41, of Medford was indicted on Thursday by a Suffolk County Grand Jury on charges of Larceny over $250 (2 counts), False Representations to Procure Welfare (3 counts), and False Representations Related to the Division of Medical Assistance. Her husband, Ronald Hickey, age 43, also of Medford, was indicted for Aiding and Abetting Larceny over $250 (2 counts).
The AG’s Office began an investigation after the matter was referred by the State Auditor’s Office.
Authorities allege that between 2005 and December 2011, Coviello-Hickey, along with help from her husband, fraudulently collected more than $161,000 in state and federal benefits. She allegedly fraudulently collected more than $111,000 in MassHealth health insurance benefits and nearly $9,500 in Supplement Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as “food stamps,” for herself as well as her son and step-son. She allegedly collected more than $40,770 from the federal government in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Disability benefits from October 2006 to December 2011.
Authorities allege that she fraudulently collected these benefits by concealing the fact that she had been residing with Hickey, that he was gainfully employed with a salary in excess of $80,000, and had health insurance which, if elected, would cover his entire family.
The state Department of Transitional Assistance administers the SNAP program, the state Division of Medical Assistance administers MassHealth, and the federal Social Security Administration administers the SSI Disability program. All of these agencies require benefit recipients to notify them of any change in household composition or income. The investigation revealed that if Coviello-Hickey had notified these agencies of her true familial and financial situations, she would not have been eligible for any benefits from either the state or federal government, nor would her children.
According to investigators, Hickey had knowledge that his wife was defrauding the state and receiving benefits she was not entitled to and never reported his familial or employment situation to authorities. Authorities allege that Hickey also took steps to further the scheme and conceal it from authorities. He and Coviello-Hickey, when confronted by investigators, allegedly obtained a falsified rental agreement in an attempt to show that they were not living together and cover-up the fraud.
Coviello-Hickey and Hickey were indicted on Thursday by a Suffolk County Grand Jury. They are due back in Suffolk Superior Court for arraignment on May 23.
These charges are allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jason Cofield through the AG’s Fraud and Financial Crimes Division, with assistance from the State Auditor’s Office, the federal Social Security Administration, the state Department of Transitional Assistance, and the state Division of Medical Assistance.