Can I Be Deported For Medicaid Fraud Or Welfare Fraud In New York City?

At Joseph Potashnik and Associates PC we deal with criminal Medicaid fraud cases on a daily basis. In our practice we see a number of non-US citizen clients accused of Medicaid fraud or Welfare fraud. One of the main problems faced by non-citizens accused of criminal acts is immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. The issue of being charged with a crime when you are not a citizen is crucial and I’ll analyze its main points in this post.

First, committing a crime is not in itself grounds for deportation. However, being convicted of a crime may be. There are two basic types of crimes that could result in deportation. One is a crime of moral turpitude, and the other is something the federal law considers an aggravated felony.

What is and is not a crime of moral turpitude is a matter of a separate discussion, but for our purposes, most theft related crimes are considered a crime involving mortal turpitude, meaning that the person who has been convicted of this crime (or pled guilty to it) is not fit to be a US citizen and may be subject to deportation. An aggravated felony, on the other hand, is something else, but as applied to theft crimes, it the theft involved more than $10,000 and/or if the sentence for the crime was one year in jail or more, the crime is an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. This means that the alien convicted of it is subject to deportation.

Medicaid fraud or welfare fraud are just special names for an old fashion fraud, or theft. Defendants accused of lying on their public benefits applications in order to get benefits for which they are ineligible commit larceny, which is charged not only as larceny (theft) but also as welfare fraud and filing of a false business instrument.

If the case is still in its early investigative stage, it is always better to prevent criminal charges from being filed in the first place. This solves all the problems at once. Unfortunately, it is not always the case and many individuals in New York City are criminally charged for public benefits fraud (including Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, and Section 8) in New York City every year. They are all charged with grand larceny if the amount of benefits received exceeds $1,000.

For those defendants who have not became US citizens, this means that if the case results in a criminal conviction, the prospect of deportation is close and very real. It doesn’t matter that you’ve live in this country for many years, that you have family and business, and paid your taxes. If you are not a citizen, a criminal conviction for fraud will become a problem for you.

There are some ways a good criminal lawyer can minimize the possibility of deportation, or at least make your immigration case easier to defend. Of course, if there is a valid legal defense to welfare fraud charges, they must be fully exploited. But even if the case is indefensible, not all is lost. For example, we can negotiate with the prosecutor a deal that allows the defendant to plead guilty to a charge that doesn’t make the defendant automatically deportable.

This is one of very few (but very effective) techniques that experienced defense lawyer can use. In some cases, we can reach a deal under which the defendant is allowed to pay restitution administratively, before the charges are filed, so that the outstanding balance is under $10,000 and the defendant will be charged with stealing under $10,000, which may resolve the issue of aggravated felony.

If you are a target of a fraud investigation or have been charged with Medicaid or Welfare fraud in New York City, our experienced NYC criminal lawyers are here to help you.

Call us today at (212) 577-6677 to set up an immediate consultation.