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September 23, 2016

Employee’s continuing to accept public assistance benefits after being employed to manage public assistance benefits held incompatible with such employment


Employee’s continuing to accept public assistance benefits after being employed to manage public assistance benefits held incompatible with such employment
Human Resources Admin. v Charleman, OATH Index No. 1653/16

In disciplinary proceeding conducted in accordance with §75 of the Civil Service Law,  New York City Office Of Administrative Trials And Hearings Administrative Law Judge Susan J. Pogoda recommended the termination of the employment of Desiree Charleman, an eligibility specialist with the New York City Human Resources Administration [HRA], after finding her guilty of failing to report her arrest for shoplifting, her fraudulently accepted food stamps, and her failing to report acceptance of public assistance rent checks from her sister. Judge Pogoda explained that Charleman’s dishonesty did not comport with the duties of her job.

The ALJ noted that the penalty of termination was recommended in a number of other similar disciplinary action such as in OATH Index No. 1381/03 in which the employee was terminated for failing to report purchase of rental income property as required by agency rules and OATH Index Nos. 542/99, in which three employees who failed to report income and received from $3,000 to $11,000 in public assistance to which they were not entitled.

Although Charleman had expressed remorse over her actions, Judge Pogoda found that while she was specifically informed when she was hired that, as a public assistance client she had an obligation to immediately inform her caseworker of her employment, she failed to do so. Also, said the ALJ, Charleman’s defense that she made mistakes because she was preoccupied with family issues during the relevant time period was inconsistent with her statement to an investigator that “she didn’t know why she kept redeeming the benefits”. In addition, Judge Pogoda found that although Charleman was subsequently notified by a mailed notice of a $600 recoupment claim for benefits, she continued to access her benefits without informing her caseworker of her current income.

The ALJ concluded that Charleman’s acceptance and redemption of benefits for up to nine months after she was employed by HRA, “when she must have known that she was not entitled to them, suggests a high level of dishonesty that is incompatible with continuing to be employed to manage public assistance benefits.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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