Brown County Browser: Welfare fraud concerns

In the recent campaign for Sheriff of Brown County, this subject came up several times. It was apparent this was a major concern of a lot of residents of the county.

This has always been a major concern of mine also since coming to the county in 1973. In 1977, we hired a part-time highway patrolman in his off hours to pursue complaints and suspicions in regard to welfare fraud. We had part-time people up until 20 years ago when we were able to combine the need for welfare fraud pursuit between Sibley and Brown and also include collections for people owing money back to the county for various reasons in the Human Service area. In those 20 years, that employee, Preston Cowing, has become known statewide. He’s one of the best in this field. He is called on every year at several different county worker conferences to speak on the subject of welfare fraud in rural Minnesota Counties. He has also helped train almost every newly hired welfare fraud investigator in south central Minnesota in the last 10 years. He is highly respected by the law enforcement officers in the area plus courts and county attorneys.

Our desire continues to be to keep the public assistance caseload in Brown County “clean” from any kind of fraudulent actions by investigating all fraud referrals made to our office. Keep in mind that 80 percent of Brown County’s caseload of “welfare” is Medical Assistance only. Most of that assistance goes toward paying nursing home and group home cost.

If you have concerns about fraud and have a name and situation you would like us to check out, feel free to contact us. We find it’s least expensive to pursue and stop fraudulent actions early in their existence to avoid having to go to court and all the expense involved in that process. We also find that a lot of welfare fraud concerns people have about neighbors, friends, relatives because it is not apparent where their livelihood is coming from. We then find they are supported by other government programs not under our jurisdiction such as social security disability payments and/or sources of funding come from places unknown to the concerned citizens. We want those complaints to be checked out.

Help us in any way you can to keep the public assistance caseloads in Brown County “clean.”