Monsey mother spared jail in Medicaid fraud
Parents of 16 children repay $70G, now legally get coverage for family
Steve Lieberman • Journal News
A 45-year-old Monsey woman was sentenced to a conditional discharge Monday on a guilty plea to grand larceny involving the theft of $72,572 in welfare payments.
Edith Wagschal and her husband, Joshua, repaid $70,000 in two payments before sentencing by County Court Judge Charles Apotheker in the Rockland County Courthouse in New City.
They still owe $2,572 and $375 in court fees that must be paid before March 9.
Joshua Wagschal will received a conditional discharge in Ramapo Town Court based on his wife’s guilty plea to a count of third-degree grand larceny, a felony, on Aug. 26.
The Wagschals were accused in October of failing to report property they owned when they applied for Medicaid, a health benefit for people with low incomes.
They were arrested Oct. 7 after an investigation by the Rockland special investigations unit and the Department of Social Services. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe has targeted welfare fraud among other white-collar crimes during his four years in office.
Their lawyer, Kenneth Gribetz, said the couple didn’t know they had to include the property on their application for Medicaid.
He said the property is worthless because the Wagschals owed more money than it was worth. He argued the family would have legally qualified.
“What took place shouldn’t have taken place,” Gribetz told Apotheker. “They should have included the property. The property is not worth anything. This should have been avoided.”
Gribetz said the Wagschals now legally receive Medicaid for themselves and their 16 children, paying $29 a month.
Apotheker declined to have Edith Wagschal report to a probation officer because she had many children to care for.
Edith Wagschal apologized.
“I am very sorry for what happened,” she told Apotheker.
Prosecutor Gary Lee Heavner said whether the Wagschals undeclared property is worthless didn’t matter for the prosecution on the grand larceny charge.
“I am not saying we agree with what they claim,” Heavner said. “It doesn’t matter.”