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Millions in government assistance wrongly sent to N.J. inmates


May 29, 2013

By Phil Gregory

Thousands of prisoners in New Jersey have been unfairly taking advantage of taxpayer Images money.

State Comptroller Matt Boxer says an audit has found that $23 million in government-assistance benefits were paid over a two-year period to inmates who were not entitled to receive them.

He says the largest portion was $10 million from the unemployment insurance program.

"The law requires that you can only receive unemployment payments if you are available to work and able to work," Boxer said Wednesday. "And these unemployment checks were being direct deposited to the accounts of prison inmates who, obviously because they're in jail, they're not able to work."

More than $7 million in Medicaid payments went to inmates.

"We also saw payments to doctors and other health-care providers where the beneficiary named was actually in prison at the time," he said. "So those appear to be cases where somebody passed off their Medicaid card to another individual."

Boxer says lax oversight by state agencies also enabled inmates to get food stamps and state pension checks.

He says the departments responsible for the programs have agreed to screen incarceration data and will try to recover the misspent funds.

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