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As a result of a joint investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade County Office of the Inspector General (OIG), two employees with Miami-Dade County’s Community Action Agency (CAA), an agency within the County’s Community Action and Human Services Department (CAHSD), were charged with using their positions to fraudulently obtain funds intended to assist low-income individuals with paying their energy bills.

Every theft by a governmental employee is a betrayal of the public trust. It is particularly disappointing when workers charged with helping the poor steal some of that money for themselves, noted State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. With the filing of criminal charges, I’m certain that these individuals now understand that they have committed serious offenses just to put a few extra dollars into their pockets.

Miami-Dade County Inspector General Mary Cagle expressed her gratitude to those who come forward with information: The OIG truly appreciates concerned citizens and well-intentioned County employees alerting us to fraudulent activities taking place in our County programs. The criminal acts committed by these County employees deprive those who truly need the assistance of this worthwhile program.

A criminal investigation was initiated after the OIG received an anonymous complaint indicating that CAA employees Iraida Macias and Earlene Finney were circumventing the application process of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to personally obtain monies originally intended to assist low-income individuals with paying their energy bills. LIHEAP is a federally-funded program administered locally by Miami-Dade County. Macias and Finney, as LIHEAP eligibility interviewers whose job it was to determine if applicants met the income level limitations necessary to receive these financial benefits, were able to circumvent the oversight safeguards to receive money to which they were not eligible.

Between June 10, 2010 and September 4, 2012, Iraida Macias’ FPL account was credited with approximately $4,100.78 in LIHEAP funding. Records indicate that between 2010 and 2014, Earlene J. Finney, a supervisor who approves LIHEAP funding applications, received approximately $6,211.70 from the LIHEAP program.

The SAO and OIG joint investigation was also assisted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services OIG, who administer LIHEAP at the Federal level.

 

Iraida E. Macias has been charged with:

1 count of Official Misconduct, a 3rd Degree Felony

1 count of Organized Scheme to Defraud, a 3rd Degree Felony

8 counts of Grand Theft, a 3rd Degree Felony

 

Earlene J. Finney has been charged with:

1 count of Official Misconduct, a 3rd Degree Felony

1 count of Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, a 3rd Degree Felony

1 count of Petit Theft, a 1st Degree Misdemeanor

iraida-macias


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