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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Chapter 256

Section 256.98

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256.98 WRONGFULLY OBTAINING ASSISTANCE; THEFT.
    Subdivision 1. Wrongfully obtaining assistance. A person who commits any of the
following acts or omissions with intent to defeat the purposes of sections 145.891 to 145.897, the
MFIP program formerly codified in sections 256.031 to 256.0361, the AFDC program formerly
codified in sections 256.72 to 256.871, chapters 256B, 256D, 256J, 256K, or 256L, and child care
assistance programs, is guilty of theft and shall be sentenced under section 609.52, subdivision
3
, clauses (1) to (5):
(1) obtains or attempts to obtain, or aids or abets any person to obtain by means of a
willfully false statement or representation, by intentional concealment of any material fact, or
by impersonation or other fraudulent device, assistance or the continued receipt of assistance,
to include child care assistance or vouchers produced according to sections 145.891 to 145.897
and MinnesotaCare services according to sections 256.9365, 256.94, and 256L.01 to 256L.15, to
which the person is not entitled or assistance greater than that to which the person is entitled;
(2) knowingly aids or abets in buying or in any way disposing of the property of a recipient
or applicant of assistance without the consent of the county agency; or
(3) obtains or attempts to obtain, alone or in collusion with others, the receipt of payments
to which the individual is not entitled as a provider of subsidized child care, or by furnishing or
concurring in a willfully false claim for child care assistance.
The continued receipt of assistance to which the person is not entitled or greater than
that to which the person is entitled as a result of any of the acts, failure to act, or concealment
described in this subdivision shall be deemed to be continuing offenses from the date that the
first act or failure to act occurred.
    Subd. 2. Joint trials. When two or more defendants are jointly charged with the same offense
under subdivision 1, or are jointly charged with different offenses under subdivision 1 arising
from the same course of conduct, they shall be tried jointly; however, if it appears to the court that
a defendant or the state is substantially prejudiced by the joinder for trial, the court may order an
election or separate trial of counts, grant a severance of defendants, or provide other relief.
    Subd. 3. Amount of assistance incorrectly paid. The amount of the assistance incorrectly
paid under this section is:
(1) the difference between the amount of assistance actually received on the basis of
misrepresented or concealed facts and the amount to which the recipient would have been
entitled had the specific concealment or misrepresentation not occurred. Unless required by
law, rule, or regulation, earned income disregards shall not be applied to earnings not reported
by the recipient; or
(2) equal to all payments for health care services, including capitation payments made to
a health plan, made on behalf of a person enrolled in MinnesotaCare, medical assistance, or
general assistance medical care, for which the person was not entitled due to the concealment or
misrepresentation of facts.
    Subd. 4. Recovery of assistance. The amount of assistance determined to have been
incorrectly paid is recoverable from:
(1) the recipient or the recipient's estate by the county or the state as a debt due the county or
the state or both; and
(2) any person found to have taken independent action to establish eligibility for, conspired
with, or aided and abetted, any recipient of public assistance found to have been incorrectly paid.
The obligations established under this subdivision shall be joint and several and shall extend
to all cases involving client error as well as cases involving wrongfully obtained assistance.
MinnesotaCare participants who have been found to have wrongfully obtained assistance as
described in subdivision 1, but who otherwise remain eligible for the program, may agree to have
their MinnesotaCare premiums increased by an amount equal to ten percent of their premiums or
$10 per month, whichever is greater, until the debt is satisfied.
    Subd. 5. Criminal or civil action. To prosecute or to recover assistance wrongfully obtained
under this section, the attorney general or the appropriate county attorney, acting independently or
at the direction of the attorney general, may institute a criminal or civil action or both.
    Subd. 6. Rule superseded. Rule 17.03, subdivision 2, of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal
Procedures that relates to joint trials is superseded by this section to the extent that it conflicts
with this section.
    Subd. 7. Division of recovered amounts. Except for recoveries under chapter 119B, if the
state is responsible for the recovery, the amounts recovered shall be paid to the appropriate units
of government as provided under section 256.863. If the recovery is directly attributable to a
county, the county may retain one-half of the nonfederal share of any recovery from a recipient or
the recipient's estate.
This subdivision does not apply to recoveries from medical providers or to recoveries
involving the department of human services, surveillance and utilization review division, state
hospital collections unit, and the benefit recoveries division.
    Subd. 8. Disqualification from program. (a) Any person found to be guilty of wrongfully
obtaining assistance by a federal or state court or by an administrative hearing determination, or
waiver thereof, through a disqualification consent agreement, or as part of any approved diversion
plan under section 401.065, or any court-ordered stay which carries with it any probationary or
other conditions, in the Minnesota family investment program, the diversionary work program,
the food stamp or food support program, the general assistance program, the group residential
housing program, or the Minnesota supplemental aid program shall be disqualified from that
program. In addition, any person disqualified from the Minnesota family investment program shall
also be disqualified from the food stamp or food support program. The needs of that individual
shall not be taken into consideration in determining the grant level for that assistance unit:
(1) for one year after the first offense;
(2) for two years after the second offense; and
(3) permanently after the third or subsequent offense.
The period of program disqualification shall begin on the date stipulated on the advance
notice of disqualification without possibility of postponement for administrative stay or
administrative hearing and shall continue through completion unless and until the findings upon
which the sanctions were imposed are reversed by a court of competent jurisdiction. The period
for which sanctions are imposed is not subject to review. The sanctions provided under this
subdivision are in addition to, and not in substitution for, any other sanctions that may be provided
for by law for the offense involved. A disqualification established through hearing or waiver
shall result in the disqualification period beginning immediately unless the person has become
otherwise ineligible for assistance. If the person is ineligible for assistance, the disqualification
period begins when the person again meets the eligibility criteria of the program from which they
were disqualified and makes application for that program.
(b) A family receiving assistance through child care assistance programs under chapter 119B
with a family member who is found to be guilty of wrongfully obtaining child care assistance
by a federal court, state court, or an administrative hearing determination or waiver, through a
disqualification consent agreement, as part of an approved diversion plan under section 401.065,
or a court-ordered stay with probationary or other conditions, is disqualified from child care
assistance programs. The disqualifications must be for periods of three months, six months, and
two years for the first, second, and third offenses respectively. Subsequent violations must result
in permanent disqualification. During the disqualification period, disqualification from any child
care program must extend to all child care programs and must be immediately applied.
(c) A provider caring for children receiving assistance through child care assistance programs
under chapter 119B is disqualified from receiving payment for child care services from the child
care assistance program under chapter 119B when the provider is found to have wrongfully
obtained child care assistance by a federal court, state court, or an administrative hearing
determination or waiver under section 256.046, through a disqualification consent agreement,
as part of an approved diversion plan under section 401.065, or a court-ordered stay with
probationary or other conditions. The disqualification must be for a period of one year for the first
offense and two years for the second offense. Any subsequent violation must result in permanent
disqualification. The disqualification period must be imposed immediately after a determination is
made under this paragraph. During the disqualification period, the provider is disqualified from
receiving payment from any child care program under chapter 119B.
(d) Any person found to be guilty of wrongfully obtaining general assistance medical care,
MinnesotaCare for adults without children, and upon federal approval, all categories of medical
assistance and remaining categories of MinnesotaCare, except for children through age 18, by a
federal or state court or by an administrative hearing determination, or waiver thereof, through a
disqualification consent agreement, or as part of any approved diversion plan under section
401.065, or any court-ordered stay which carries with it any probationary or other conditions, is
disqualified from that program. The period of disqualification is one year after the first offense,
two years after the second offense, and permanently after the third or subsequent offense. The
period of program disqualification shall begin on the date stipulated on the advance notice of
disqualification without possibility of postponement for administrative stay or administrative
hearing and shall continue through completion unless and until the findings upon which the
sanctions were imposed are reversed by a court of competent jurisdiction. The period for which
sanctions are imposed is not subject to review. The sanctions provided under this subdivision
are in addition to, and not in substitution for, any other sanctions that may be provided for by
law for the offense involved.
    Subd. 9. Welfare reform coverage. All references to MFIP or Minnesota family investment
program contained in sections 256.017, 256.019, 256.045, 256.046, and 256.98 to 256.9866 shall
be construed to include all variations of the Minnesota family investment program including, but
not limited to, chapter 256J, MFIP, MFIP-R, and chapter 256K.
History: 1971 c 550 s 1; 1973 c 348 s 1; 1973 c 717 s 16; 1975 c 437 art 2 s 2; 1977 c 225 s
1; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 254 s 6; 1987 c 403 art 2 s 72; 1988 c 712 s 2; 1990 c 566 s 6; 1990 c
568 art 4 s 84; 1991 c 292 art 5 s 26; 1992 c 513 art 8 s 14; 1995 c 207 art 2 s 30,31; 1997 c
85 art 5 s 8-10; 1Sp1997 c 5 s 14,15; 1999 c 159 s 46,47; 1999 c 205 art 1 s 54-56; 1Sp2001
c 9 art 10 s 2,66; 2002 c 379 art 1 s 113; 1Sp2003 c 14 art 1 s 106; art 9 s 33; art 12 s 12-14;
2004 c 288 art 4 s 26