A Midwood couple accused of stealing more than $100,000 in government benefits is facing 15 years in prison, District Attorney Charles Hynes said on Monday.
Investigators claim that Avraham Baror, 64, and his wife, Rivka, 51, allegedly maintained aliases to hide a trove of assets so they could qualify for Medicaid and food stamps. The couple pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree welfare fraud, second-degree grand larceny, and first-degree false-instrument use on Monday and were released on their own recognizance.
According to Hynes’s office, the couple had four late-model luxury cars, bank accounts into which the two made average monthly deposits of $4,400, safe deposit boxes that contained $75,000 in cash, and a home on E. Second Street, valued by the city at $585,000.
The Barors allegedly registered the house, cars, and money under different last names. Prosecutors said Avraham used the surname Bachbuth, while Rivka used her maiden name, Yedidia. Under their legal names, they applied for public assistance, claiming they had no assets and that they rented the home they actually owned, prosecutors say.
The Barors came under suspicion in 2010, when Human Resources Administration investigator Thomas Toth encountered Rivka at the agency’s Manhattan office, where she used her maiden name and allegedly advised others on how to obtain benefits. Rivka had an intimate knowledge of the Medicaid program that led Toth to think she might also be on the rolls, prosecutors said.
But Rivka Yedidia was not on the rolls. Rivka Baror — who lived at the same address — was, Toth discovered.
Hynes castigated the Barors for concocting what he called “an elaborate scheme” to “[steal] benefits designed to help truly needy and deserving individuals.”
City Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar echoed that sentiment, saying, “This case is an egregious example of individuals who abuse New York City’s public benefits program.”
The Barors each have free, court-appointed counsel, which, based on their assets, they may lose at their next hearing.
Michael Millet, Rivka’s lawyer, declined to comment for this story while Avraham’s attorney, Joshua Horowitz, could not be reached.
But as they left court the couple disputed the charges. They said the cars belonged to their son and asserted that they were both had low-paying jobs.
“It’s a lie,” Rivka told the New York Daily News. “We work very, very hard, from 7 am to midnight every day.”
Cold case solved
A man accused of murdering a beautiful Sunset Park resident was arrested last week — 25 years after the young woman’s murder.
Police said Lisette Torres, 19, went out to celebrate on New Year’s Eve in 1986, promising her mother she would be home for the ball drop.
But that was not to be: the next morning she was found dead in the lot of an auto-body shop under the Gowanus Expressway, her body riddled with stab wounds.
Her murder remained unsolved for two decades, until the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad reopened her file in 2010.
Unlike in 1987, detectives were able to test evidence found under her fingernail for DNA — a breakthrough that led cops to suspect Edwin Alcaide, a repeat offender with a rap sheet that includes robbery, rape, and assault running back to 1975.
Alcaide was arraigned on charges of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon this week. He was remanded to jail pending trial. The Torres family said they were overjoyed that the case was finally solved.
“I waited for a miracle and the miracle came today after 25 years,” Torres’s father Jose told CBS news.
— with Daniel Solomon