Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and NYC Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar on Wednesday announced the indictment of Lesley Ann Lawson, 37, for collecting Medicaid, food stamps, and unemployment insurance benefits, while working as a contract attorney.
She is indicted on charges including Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree, Welfare Fraud in the Fourth Degree, Welfare Fraud in the Fifth Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and others. She could face up to seven years in prison.
“It is important to make sure that those who need help are able to receive government benefits to help them survive. Thousands of individuals in NYC rely on assistance such as welfare, rental assistance, cash assistance, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and food stamps. To these individuals, it is the difference between having a place to live, having food on their tables, and having clothes on their backs,” said Hynes.
“Unfortunately, there are scammers who try to take advantage of the government and steal funds for which they are ineligible. In essence, they are stealing money from those who are less fortunate.”
HRA Commissioner Robert Doar added, “Since the charges also raised questions about Ms. Lawson's honesty and trustworthiness as an attorney, we are referring this matter to the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division's Second Judicial Department.”
Lawson was admitted to practice law in New York in 2005. Starting in 2010, Lawson worked for Hudson Legal, a company that contracts attorneys to big law firms for discovery assistance. From 2010 to 2012, she earned almost $200,000 in salary. She paid for vision and dental benefits through her company.
However, she chose to get her medical benefits through Medicaid by misrepresenting her income, according to the indictment. She allegedly reported that her only source of income was unemployment benefits.
From March 2010 to February 2011, Lawson also received over $2,000 in Food Stamp benefits for her, her husband, and their child. Once again, according to the indictment, she submitted an application, falsely reporting that she was receiving unemployment benefits and she had no other source of income.
Lawson had been receiving unemployment benefits in 2008 and 2009, but continued to receive them in 2010 even after she was employed, according to the indictment.