2010 Georgia Code
O.C.G.A. 49-4-15 (2010)
TITLE 49 - SOCIAL SERVICES
CHAPTER 4 - PUBLIC ASSISTANCE
ARTICLE 1 - GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 49-4-15 - Fraud in obtaining public assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid; penalties; recovery of overpayments
49-4-15. Fraud in obtaining public assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid; penalties; recovery of overpayments
(a) Any person who by means of a false statement, failure to disclose information, or impersonation, or by other fraudulent device, obtains or attempts to obtain, or any person who knowingly or intentionally aids or abets such person in the obtaining or attempting to obtain:
(1) Any grant or payment of public assistance, food stamps, or medical assistance (Medicaid) to which he is not entitled;
(2) A larger amount of public assistance, food stamp allotment, or medical assistance (Medicaid) than that to which he is entitled; or
(3) Payment of any forfeited grant of public assistance;
or any person who, with intent to defraud the department, aids or abets in the buying or in any way disposing of the real property of a recipient of public assistance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor unless the total amount of the value of public assistance, food stamps, and medical assistance (Medicaid) so obtained exceeds $500.00, in which event such person shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years. In determining the amount of value of public assistance, food stamps, and medical assistance obtained by false statement, failure to disclose information, or impersonation, or other fraudulent device, the total amount obtained during any uninterrupted period of time shall be treated as one continuing offense.
(b) It shall be a fraudulent device within the meaning of subsection (a) of this Code section, and punishable as therein provided, for any person:
(1) Knowingly to use, alter, or transfer food stamp coupons or authorizations to purchase food stamp coupons in any manner not authorized by law;
(2) Knowingly to possess food stamp coupons or authorizations to purchase food stamp coupons when he or she is not authorized by law to possess them;
(3) Knowingly to possess or redeem food stamp coupons or benefits when he or she is not authorized by law to possess or redeem them; or
(4) Knowingly to use or redeem food stamp coupons or benefits in any manner or for purposes not authorized by law.
(c) (1) Any person who obtains any payment of public assistance to which he is not entitled or in excess of that to which he is entitled shall be liable to the state for the amount of such overpayment.
(2) Any person who intentionally, with knowledge of the fraud, aids or abets any recipient of public assistance in obtaining or attempting to obtain any payment of public assistance to which the recipient is not entitled or a payment in excess of that to which he is entitled shall also be liable to the state for the amount of such payment.
(3) Any person who receives any payment of public assistance to which he is not entitled or in excess of that to which he is entitled shall be liable to the state for the amount of such overpayment.
(4) Subject to the limitations provided in this paragraph, the amount of such overpayment may be recovered by civil action and, if the person receiving such overpayment continues on assistance, by proportionate reduction of future public assistance grants, in accordance with regulations of the board which shall conform to the federal Social Security Act and federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, until the excess amount has been paid. In any case in which, under this subsection, a person is liable to repay any sum, such sum may be collected without interest by civil action brought in the name of the department. Any repayment required by this subsection may be waived by the department, and the method of repayment, if any, including recoupments from current assistance grants, shall be determined by the department. Recoupment may be initiated without regard to whether the department has obtained a judgment in a civil action but shall not be initiated prior to notice and an opportunity for a hearing in accordance with this article. The department shall make such waivers and determinations of repayment and the manner of repayment in accordance with regulations of the board which shall conform to the federal Social Security Act and the federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.
(d) Any felony offense under this Code section may be prosecuted by accusation as provided in Code Section 17-7-70.1.
(e) (1) Prior to the filing of an accusation or the return of an indictment, a prosecuting attorney may defer further prosecution of such accusation or indictment and shall have the authority to enter into a consent agreement with the individual in which such individual admits to any overpayment, consents to disqualification for such period of time as is or may hereafter be provided by law, and agrees to repay, as restitution, such overpayment. Such agreement may provide for a lump sum repayment, installment payments, formula reduction of benefits, or any combination thereof. Such agreement shall toll the running of the statute of limitations for such offense for the period of the agreement. A consent agreement entered into in accordance with this subsection shall not constitute a criminal charge.
(2) Any such agreement shall be filed in the criminal docket of the court having jurisdiction over the violation of this Code section without the necessity of the state filing an accusation or an indictment being returned by a grand jury. The clerk shall enter upon the docket "CONSENT AGREEMENT NOT A CRIMINAL CHARGE."
(3) Upon successful completion of the terms and conditions of the consent agreement, criminal prosecution of the individual for such offense shall be barred; provided, however, that nothing in this paragraph shall prohibit the state from introducing evidence of such offense as a similar transaction in any subsequent prosecution or for the purpose of impeachment. The successful completion of the terms and conditions of the agreement shall not be considered a criminal conviction.
(4) If the individual fails to comply with the terms of such consent agreement, the state may proceed with a criminal prosecution.
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