Blogged By: La Tray
Source & Story Credit: New York Post – Chuck Bennett
Photo Credit: New York Post
Posted Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:30 a.m. PST
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore pulled strings to get her family’s live-in housekeeper food stamps, cash assistance and Medicaid benefits, according to an internal report from the county’s Department of Social Services.
For the past year, Social Services has been probing how DiFiore’s housekeeper was suddenly approved for welfare benefits after having been previously denied three times for inconsistencies in her applications, The Post has learned.
“Okay we got to the bottom of this case. This was a political favor for Janet DiFiore’s maid. It is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE,” Dhyalma Vazquez, a county anti-fraud investigator, wrote in an internal e-mail June 30, 2011.
Vazquez, who also chairs the Yonkers Independence Party, alleged in the e-mail to Department of Social Services Commissioner Kevin McGuire that DiFiore’s housekeeper, Jamaican immigrant Marina Buchanan, should never have received benefits.
In a series of e-mails from June and July of last year, Vazquez claimed that DiFiore, a Republican-turned- Democrat, had Buchanan’s case file improperly re-opened after the Yonkers branch office denied benefits.
Buchanan, 58, was paid $200 a week in cash by DiFiore and got $315 a month in Social Security disability benefits, according to documents obtained by The Post.
It is unclear from the documents if Social Security taxes were paid on Buchanan’s wages.
Buchanan, who claimed she was a nanny and housekeeper for DiFiore since 1987, also didn’t disclose receiving the Social Security disability benefits while still working up to 18 hours a week for the DA.
Further, she had a credit card with a $55,000 limit, sources said, yet still sought county benefits.
“The question is why the special favor. Why are cases being opened in Central Office . . . Just because she is the District Attorney does not mean she is above the law!” Vazquez wrote.
County investigators are looking at the actions of a former Social Services official who is active in local Democratic politics, sources said.
Reached by phone, Vazquez, who has been with Social Services for 20 years, cited the ongoing investigation and declined to comment.
DiFiore’s spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, said, “It is a personal issue that is related to her and her husband and I can’t comment.”
Her three children are now all in their 20s. It’s unclear if Buchanan still works for DiFiore, who was first elected DA in 2005.
Buchanan, who could not be reached for comment, wrote in documents that she left the DA’s employ in May 2010.