ADVERTISEMENT

Fourteen suspects have been arrested in a four-month investigation of alleged welfare fraud in Niagara County, the Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday.

Sheriff James R. Voutour said several public agencies in Niagara County, including Social Services and the District Attorney’s Office, joined with the sheriff, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General and the Niagara Falls Police Department in the probe. Some of the suspects face felony charges of grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing, welfare fraud or misdemeanor charges of misuse of food stamps.

The probe was completed with two search warrants targeting two stores that are suspected of aiding in welfare fraud, and more arrests are expected, the sheriff said. “The cost of welfare in Niagara County continues to be a massive burden for our taxpayers,” Voutour said. “The Sheriff’s Office will continue to prosecute those who cheat the system.”

Arrested for alleged welfare fraud since the end of October were:

• Angela Herkey, 25, of Niagara Falls, Oct. 24, on charges of second-degree forgery, second-degree possession of a forged instrument and first-degree filing a false instrument.

• Gerald Zimmerman, 53, of Niagara Falls, Nov. 5, on charges of fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

• Michantta Williams, 26, of Niagara Falls, Nov. 30, charged with first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

• Bobbi Seiler, 29, of Niagara Falls, Dec. 11, charged with third-degree grand larceny, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and third-degree welfare fraud.

• Bernadette Leadingfox, 49, of Lewiston, Dec. 11, accused of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

• Kirsten Stofle, 24 and Zachary Stofle, 25, both of North Tonawanda, Jan. 15, accused of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and second-degree possession of a forged instrument.

• Leah McNaughton, 25, of Niagara Falls, Jan. 15, charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

• Danielle Leighton, 31, of Niagara Falls, Jan. 16, accused of fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree welfare fraud, and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

• Christine Jamieson, 37 of Niagara Falls, Jan. 28, charged with misuse of food stamps.

• Daniel McKean, 45, of Niagara Falls, Jan. 30, accused of fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

• Ashley Shipp, 23, of North Tonawanda, Feb. 5, charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

• Pearl Harpham, 33, of Niagara Falls, Feb. 8, accused of misuse of food stamps.

• Thomas Deponceau, 27, of North Tonawanda, charged Feb. 11 with fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com