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DSS Employee Falsely Obtained Benefits For Family Members

SUFFOLK COUNTY, NY — A Suffolk County Department of Social Services (DSS) employee was arrested on Tuesday for falsely obtaining benefits for her family members, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini.

Paola Masi, 30, of Patchogue, has worked as a social services examiner since 2013 and is responsible for looking at applications and determining if the applicant is eligible for benefits, according to the DA.

In 2018 and 2019, she allegedly used her position to manipulate the system in order to falsely qualify her mother, father and grandmother for benefits, including food stamps, the DA stated. Her scheme resulted in her receiving $5,000 in benefits for family members that they were not entitled to, according to Sini.

Masi deleted electronic notices that would have alerted other DSS employees that her mother and father earned income during the time they were applying for benefits, the DA said. She also falsely certifying her grandmother’s eligibility for SNAP benefits before the certification process began., the DA said.

She was charged with third-degree corrupting the government, third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree grand larceny, public corruption, third-degree welfare fraud, fourth-degree welfare fraud, and first-degree tampering with public records, according to the DA.

Masi’s father, 62-year-old Luis Bustamante, of Brentwood, was also charged in connection with the alleged scheme, the DA said.

He was charged with third-degree corrupting the government, fourth-degree grand larceny, public corruption, and fourth-degree welfare fraud, according to Sini

“This individual allegedly used her position of trust and her knowledge of the system to steal more than $5,000 from Suffolk County taxpayers that was meant for families truly in need,” Sini said. “This kind of scheme goes directly against our duties as public servants. I commend the members of my office’s Public Integrity Bureau for their vigilance in protecting taxpayers.”