Pay up or get locked up
Senator Declan O’Scanlon today announced his plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit State entities from entering into civil settlements for less than the amount that has been stolen from social safety net programs and offering immunity from criminal prosecution. The legislation comes as a direct result of recent investigations into Medicaid fraud settlements in Lakewood.
“The notion that people who have knowingly received benefits they were not entitled to would only be required to pay back half of that amount of money is completely ludicrous. It’s basically like letting someone get away with stealing from taxpayers. That’s unacceptable.”
O’Scanlon’s bill primarily eliminates the option for individuals to pay back anything less than full restitution under a civil settlement agreement with a State entity. Recent articles in the Asbury Park Press and others highlighted several individuals who only had to pay back half of the money they received.
The legislation goes one step further when it comes to elected public officials and state employees with fiduciary duty–requiring them to forfeit their positions and be barred from public office or employment for ten years.
“No one should be allowed to steal from taxpayers, but I wanted to make it very clear that elected officials and government employees are held to an even higher standard. How could we allow an elected official to stay in office when they’ve broken the public trust? Furthermore, government employees with a fiduciary duty and/or responsibility to award contracts cannot be allowed to stay in such positions after admitting to making willful misrepresentations in order to obtain undeserved benefits.”
“This legislation sends a clear message that there is nothing to gain by gaming the system. There is a finite amount of funds in these benefit categories. We must make sure taxpayer dollars are going to folks truly in need.” O’Scanlon concluded.