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PA Inspector General Bruce Beemer

Mar 27, 2017|

PA Inspector General Bruce Beemer with Sue Henry discussing fraud in PA

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Is always our pleasure to talk about news topics with people who know the issues. Inside. And out so I am whopping welcoming to our show this morning. Bruce beamer the inspector general of the state of Pennsylvania and someone who is. What Ari is right Brit because you have ties to northeastern Pennsylvania. But it. Sure. Oh shoot six actually grew up in. Clarks summit went to Abington heights Playskool and graduated from the University of Scranton and so. North northeastern PC. For the first 22 years or so my life. And the of attorney general's office and now your back can you talk a little bit about those two hacks that you wore. Sure. This is for it's several years the first deputy get attorney general. Which work right under the attorney general and then in July of last year government will perhaps lead to. Come to the inspector general law for us and then and lead lead this so I'll officer and I was only here for about four weeks Blanton. There was and he conceded that in the attorney general's office. And the governor was so. Ask me why would I consider serving it was very happy to do so. It was so fortunate enough to be confirmed by the senate and served for approximately five months until the middle of January. This year when I return back to the inspector general office. Excellent and now we're we're glad he could talk to us today because actions come up a lot. About who's doing why regarding fraud in the state of Pennsylvania ago whether it be from individuals. Who are doing this or government to each and sees. Where there is says some kind of financial abusive but he took a little bit and in terms of what your office does Bruce. Surely we have to two primary functions. One is cute sort of be buried the state government watchdog. He would in terms of fraud waste and abuse in state government the governor's past us we. But the monitoring and review of Colby executive branch agencies. In state government and so we do. Performance audits program reviews we look at specific types of employee misconduct. Financial reviews to determine whether or not. There are things that are occurring within the executive branch that or problematic. About it require attention or require some sort of reform. For the most part. Global reach it is sorted bit dated today fraud. It and abuse. But it that we see welfare fraud. Food stamp trafficking those types of things our officers charged with the responsibility we partner with the department of health. Perhaps with the department of human services to. Make sure that. Folks that are our goal need assistance. Are doing so it in the proper and appropriate way where there's fraud that we're trying to a route that I'd fox. In certain cases have people benefits from lose worthy nerdblurb. Inappropriately being hailed receiving that more in some cases leading to criminal prosecutions salute zarrella. The primary functions it that the inspector general off excess. Has sort of authority over what it comes to fraud of the state. In terms of what you're seeing who asses some of these it benefits programs and any talked about to food stamp. Trafficking. People Bruce have an impression. That there is widespread. Abuse in this program. They've they've talked and I'm sure you hear the stuff all the time. Therein is the line in the store. And there's an individual in front of them who has not one not two not three but four. Different cards. You know we famine. That there's always this notion that people are receiving benefits in. On Pennsylvania and maybe a neighboring Stater to come how should abuse is in this program. I certainly think it'd it is the light for. Com abuse she taught and so we we certainly see it we we do hundred students were called administrative disqualification. Hearings. Every year where we find that people are rich using. There are. Or their benefits that this. Does that they've received and we we actually try to have them disqualified because there is fraud. Going all want so that it's not unusual weaker that a lot. Sort of that you know so somebody sees something in the in the store they see something that they think isn't quite right and we actually a lot of our investigations begin. We have tips. From. Citizens in in the call all that that sees something or tips from. Folks in government that sees something and then it is concerning the cause is lost you know undertake investigations. Though. We we do see it and we certainly want to two raves. Awareness and and the focus on these issues and and you know encouraged. You know make sure that we give the resources to properly investigate all the stuff that were. It's it's could be it. Being portable we do and and we certainly know how important it is that those programs. Are going to those folks that truly need them. Said there are that are really need the assistance to war not. Abusing her gaming the system. It isn't so kind of penalty if you are receiving benefits from more than one state and are you able to work with other agencies to. Ass thirteen home who's getting what if the answers is yes. It depends on the circumstances there are times where you can be receiving. Benefits from from more than one jurisdiction. There are other times where that is not a lot out and look where week. We investigate those kinds of situations on on a routine basis we do. Hundreds and hundreds of those every year where were looking at. Whether somebody's you know improperly receiving benefits for more than one location. Where they're improperly receiving benefits because they were not truthful in the application form. Where they were not truly eligible they were trying to you know disguise the fact that they were truly eligible so we do we see all of that wouldn't win we. When we do. We we we try to make sure that that is something that is still it's handled. That as expeditiously as possible you'll write on. Top all of the almost kinds of issues and then we we have they'll quote. And went folks that that's what they view on a regular basis is check in with these. County assistance offices and making sure that that these adaptations of the and that are truly entitled to have the benefit to receive. Sometimes that we hear from people who live in northeastern Pennsylvania. That individuals are trying to sell. A benefits card for money. Com it's a bit there is a citizen out there who. I don't know thinks that's wrong. As if if I bought a benefits card from somebody for I don't know twenty dollars or something could they be prosecuted based on the purchase or not. Yes yes since. You know it is. You can eat music criminal offense to. In legally. Transfer. Or property or otherwise issue war. Supple mats colts. It supplemental new system that nutrition assistance program. Q you know sell close or transport furthermore it out be it before proper authority and we. We do well prosecute those regular basis we just to. Filed charges last week for. Young lady in Williamsport who was doing just that actually tried to sell her. Herb herbs or try to its core or MB. Internet through FaceBook. And as a result of that we we filed charges. GA. A corks. The shoes she was offering a 194. Dollar. Horror for a hundred dollars and was hoping to that. And use the money needed cheap paint. Purchase and we older products that we desist this is that we see. And him were really committed to being. As vigilant as possible and trying to to reduce the amount of fraud that is that is occurring with these. Corpse because it's it's really important a lot of times. This is money that is being diverted. What it's intended to go. Two children who were while lowering come from who really need this stuff and it needs through in the things that it should be provided is so we have our. We do have a problem were you wanna make sure that we're vigilant and addressing. I'm tank and in terms of the the penalties for something like that around. Our do you believe that they are strident enough do you believe that they are true detriment because I know the penalty is look like they're tiered Al so if you get involved with something once the penalty obviously is smaller. But if you continue to engage in this going to be a beer it escalates. Yes it's in the past I think it's a great question I think you know obviously gate. Certainly a question for the legislature there were. Yeah also yeah had a significant enough penalties to deal with this is that it's been our experience. One of the important parts of prosecution in the east in these areas it is making sure that. The folks that are fraud defrauding the system more removed from the opportunity to get benefits. At least four. A significant period of time. Meant a lot of these situations that are that are. Are people that face incarceration miserable to them and others you know off the groups for some sort of other diversionary program. Suited to deal with the situation. I haven't found it. We don't have that the schools in the law available. A lot of it is coast towards recognizing. All as much of this is we can't and making sure that we are sending a message out there. That you will be charged she will be prosecuted you'll leisure benefit she may lose your freedom and a lot of that. You know can act as a significant deterrent. Yeah and you know folks that might be thinking about you know trying to game the system that they think there's a reasonable chance they're gonna get caught blocked on the reports about that we want. So we wanted to Turks vote that way. But we also want to make sure those that. Better to do regardless there were able to catch them. Have it removed in the war on nature of the bill they're not able to trade in in these types of benefits for Yale law often times illegal. So that that's an important issue. Is there ever a time when when the cases is just too. Two smaller do you take a mind regardless of what happens are you able to investigate everything. Yeah dollar threshold bit. Did we try. We eat you don't deal split its bill volume is so hot that there are times where. We can handle things administratively. And just try to have someone benefits. Suspended or revoked as opposed to prosecuting that criminally because all of the volume on the dollar buyout so we do we do look it applied. It didn't that the majority of instances we are who we're pink some degree of decisive action to try to do this. But let's Smirnov talked just a little bit about so what goes on in a state government with waste and I guess that does some people may see some stuff gone on Bruce that there are. Totally terrified. To discuss. What they in DC NN news this is a state worker ran and they see something meant is you know that that they know was a wrong. Kind of protections to the injury due to people to step forward on this and 'cause I imagine there's a great degree of fear. About two and one's own job protection and when you when your whistle blower in this. Yeah. It would be probable be able whistle blower. Laws are actually you know quite protective in this regard particularly suited. But it deals what state workers where if someone makes a good faith complaints. We regarding something that they see in the air agency here in some other areas state government that they are. I can not be the subject of retaliation. Hello or intimidation. And that they are that that that provides over a legitimate cause of action for them so one of the things that were trying to do. Is to get out to you know not only to the general public about some of those things we've already been discussing and making sure that the people understand. That they can they can speak to Austin and and talk to us we will investigate things but within state government itself. That they you have protections size they see something. One of the things we don't have been intense bullying isn't there's false claims act which he would provide some opportunity. Four. Individuals to report. Much like the federal law works where they can mean you don't whistle blowers to actually report wrong do. And then they can they can actually bring a suit themselves does hold the key to him suit and so we. You know it would false claims we have to rely on general whistle blower protections and and so we try to get the word out war folks. In state government that you know you will be protected and you'll you'll not be subject to retaliation it makes good state complaints. That deals with waste for offer decent and state government. Him from being in your opinion. It in this regard and do you have any other states in mind that have. Some thinly talks about on the federal low volt that that might actually encourage people to be more forthright as or another state that's done. What you talked about. There's about there's about 27 not believe states that Havel currently have a false according to access it. Allows for that type posts. Cautions listeners there's no bidders you know positive position. He arguments on both sides of slogans of the island terms of those of those issues blind. You don't Wear it with regard chew. Q what we have Pennsylvania we still framework under which. We here in the inspector general office can encourage folks to calm cool weather in state government or outside to protect them. Problem but you know the types. You know retaliation that you might see where somebody you know cause the kind of appear where people are reported him as much going to be in jeopardy. There are my boss's or my supervisor can treat it differently to that made disc player all the same kinds of Beers. Think concerns that you know sometimes you know hinder individuals from coming fall we tried it. Make sure that they understand that you that they will be protected in the that network or. If someone that does cease something that they think is suspicious and I am thinking in the in the that the venue of you know snap fraud who would. He will probably be store clerks but hey if just average citizens have something that they don't feel is right not what what kind of wage should they be reaching out. Sure yeah it did then it's anybody suspect's. Welfare fraud. They shouldn't. They want to make a complaint to QB inspector general's office. They should feel free to call our toll free number which is sort 1809320582. Or they can visit. Our web site where we had the opportunity and ability for the next Mick. Complaints through the web site at www. Pro IG dot PA dot US and that will. You know we we we try to investigate those and get back to folks real quick week. In terms of the state Mexico plates you see whether there's something that we can do what do we have jurisdiction whether we can investigated. Would we we make. We do dozens and dozens of investigations every year. That proved to be very fruitful and rooting out waste and fraud become problems. Citizens or come from other state government workers who sees things that lead to. You know some. Get results that are pretty positive in terms of reducing fraud. Science it's a pleasure to have you on the show today and I really appreciate the opportunity to speak Q about these issues because they. That they come up a lot I know you know that and people are always wondering how they should actor what they should do so and I have given them some of food for thought. First beamer are our native son who is this he inspector general of the state of Pennsylvania we appreciate it. Reporters mosques and a look forward to being back up couldn't. Northeastern PA's suited.