Spitzer And Welfare Inspector General Announce Arrest Of Queens Man For Stealing Welfare Benefits

Attorney General Spitzer and Welfare Inspector General Paul Balukas today announced the arrest of a Queens man, who has been charged with stealing over $100,000 in public assistance benefits from federal and state disability programs.

The defendant, Ronald Trucchio, 52, is charged with one count of Grand Larceny in the second degree, a class "C" felony, and one count of Grand Larceny in the third degree, a class "D" felony.

In a complaint filed on October 30, it is alleged that on December 7, 1999, the defendant filed an application for Social Security Insurance disability benefits with the Social Security Administration. In the application, the defendant stated, among other things, that he did not have any income or resources. As a result, he received $24,620 in SSI disability benefits between January 1, 2000 and August 31, 2003, and an additional $82,040 in medical benefits through the Medicaid program between April 21, 2000 and August 12, 2003.

According to the complaint, the application stood in stark contrast to an application Trucchio made for a lease of a 2002 Cadillac DeVille sedan. Trucchio stated on that application that he had been employed for 11 years at Aldo's Restaurant and earned an annual salary of $72,000. The Cadillac itself is valued at over $40,000. The defendant repeated that employment history on a loan application he filed with American General Finance, Inc.

The defendant faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, full restitution of the $106,660 that he stole from the SSI disability and Medicaid programs, and a fine up to twice the value of the stolen benefits. The defendant was arraigned yesterday in the New York City Criminal Court in Queens before Judge Pauline Mullings. The next court appearance is scheduled for November 7, 2003.

The case was investigated by Chief Investigator Robert Waters of the Welfare Inspector General's office. Andrew Weiss of the Welfare Inspector General's office, a Special Assistant Attorney General, will handle the prosecution.

Spitzer and Balukas offered thanks to Special Agent Daniel Guevara of the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and Deputy Commissioner David Avenius of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Disability Determinations Department, for their assistance in investigating this case.

Complaints of misconduct in social services programs may be made directly to the Inspector General's office at 1-800-682-4530.

The charges filed against the defendant are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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