Israeli-American mother of 4 from Queens charged with $67,000 welfare fraud


(JTA) — An Israeli mother of four from New York was indicted for allegedly cheating the government out of $67,000 in welfare payment that she obtained under false pretense.

Galit Levi, 37, of the Queens neighborhood of Hollis Hills, was charged Thursday with grand larceny, welfare fraud, and falsifying business records, the Queens District Attorney’s office told the New York Daily News.

To get approved for Medicaid benefits, Levi claimed she was unemployed and that her husband earned approximately $1,750 a month — not enough to support the two adults and their four kids.

Officials approved Levi and her family for public assistance in January 2012 after she filed what turned out to be a bogus claim, authorities said. She then proceeded to bilk the system of $67,000 through December 2015, submitting several renewals for Medicaid assistance, the criminal complaint said.

A review of Levi’s bank accounts with her husband uncovered deposits from 2012 through 2016 that exceeded $1.3 million, authorities said.

“Medicaid is intended to help the truly needy, but this defendant’s bank records allegedly show her family’s income was well above the levels that would have made her and her children eligible for assistance,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Levi was arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Karen Gopee Thursday morning. Judge Gopee set bail at $5,000 and ordered Levi to surrender her U.S. and Israeli passports.

If convicted of the most serious charge, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

Levi didn’t respond to attempts to reach her and a man who identified himself as her husband declined comment when reached on his cell phone, the Daily News wrote. “I can’t talk about it right now,” he said.

New York State Welfare Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said the alleged Medicaid fraud was “a breathtakingly misplaced sense of entitlement by reaping a very comfortable family income while utilizing benefits meant for those in need to cover her expenses, as if she were in dire financial distress.”