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Woman, 42, indicted in boro welfare fraud

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A former Queens resident was indicted last month for receiving fraudulent welfare benefits and rent subsidies while she was working for the city Human Resources Administration — the same agency that issued her welfare checks.

Brooklyn resident Emily Duncan, 42, was indicted June 21 on charges that she concealed her job income on several welfare and rent subsidies income report forms in order to make herself eligible for the benefits over a 2-1/2-year period while living in Queens and later Brooklyn, said Edward J. Kuriansky, commissioner of the Department of Investigation, and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.

Duncan was arraigned June 26 on 13 counts of welfare fraud, grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, and issuing a false financial statement, the DOI said. If convicted, she faces up to seven years in prison. She has been suspended without pay, the DOI said.

Duncan’s attorney, Joshua Horowitz, did not return phone calls before presstime.

From November 1998 through March, Duncan allegedly collected $29,550 in welfare benefits and rent subsidies while she was simultaneously employed first at the Association for the Advancement of Blind and Retarded Inc. as a counselor for an annual salary of $17,000 and later at the city Human Resources Administration as a caseworker for a salary of $27,265, according to the indictment.

Duncan originally entered the welfare rolls at the Queens Job Center in Long Island City in January 1996, the DOI said. In 1998 she was hired by the AABR as a counselor at an annual salary of $17,000 but still received welfare checks from Queens HRA, authorities said. She allegedly failed to report that she was employed and receiving a salary from AABR on the annual income filing that all welfare recipients must complete to show that their income falls below the upper limit of eligibility for receiving welfare benefits, Kuriansky and Hynes said.

In March 1998, according to a 13-count indictment, she moved from Queens to a Section 8, three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and her case was transferred to HRA’s DeKalb Center.

Duncan resigned from her job at AABR in January 2000 and she was hired as a caseworker for HRA, making $27,265. The indictment alleges she continued to receive illegal welfare checks from the agency that now employed her. Ironically, her job responsibilities at HRA included helping welfare recipients find job training and employment.

The indictment alleges Duncan received a total of $22,304 in illegal welfare benefits from November 1998 to March. Duncan also is charged with receiving fraudulent rent subsidies totaling $7,246 from a federally funded HUD program that provides subsidies to low-income families living in private homes.

The Department of Investigation and HRA’s Bureau of Fraud Investigation were originally alerted to Duncan’s activities by an anonymous tip, authorities said.

Patrick Clark, a spokesman for the DOI, said cases like Duncan’s are not rare. “There’s an ongoing crackdown,” he said, “They do periodic audits.” But an audit of all the 249,000 welfare cases on the city’s roles would be an “onerous task,” he said. “They don’t have the staff.”

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