4 admit to welfare fraud, agree to repay stolen benefits

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — Four men arrested in sweeping raids targeting welfare fraud in New Jersey have agreed to repay everything they owe or face prison.

Tzvi Braun, Yisroel Merkin, Samuel Serhofer and Eliezer Sorotzkin took turns Wednesday pleading guilty at court in Toms River. The Asbury Park Press reports the four admitted they filed false tax returns and underreported their incomes — allowing them to obtain government assistance like Medicaid worth between $54,000 and $74,000. They agreed to repay the stolen benefits as part of a pretrial intervention program, which is commonly offered to low-level first time offenders. Charges will be dismissed if they make restitution. The hearing marked the first resolutions in 26 cases brought by the multiagency raids on Lakewood residents in the summer of 2017.