County collects nearly $381,000 in Family Services cases in 2012

NEW ULM – Brown County Fraud Investigator Preston Cowing told commissioners Tuesday there is a big spike in criminal (Family Services) fraud cases lately.

“I’ve sent four cases to the (Brown) County Attorney’s Office recently,” Cowing said during his 2012 Collections/Fraud annual report.

The report showed $380,960.51 in total 2012 Family Services collections. The figure included $283,821.09 in Medical Assistance, including $228,543.51 in MA from estates; and $47,580 in detox costs. The annual collections total compares to $293,367.18 in 2011, and $336,987.94 in 2010.

Cowing said some detox patients are eligible for lower or no fees with the county picking up the difference.

“In Brown and Sibley counties, we feel it’s our responsibility to collect this money,” said Cowing, past president of the Minnesota Fraud Investigators Association. “A number of counties contacted me to do presentations. Some asked me for new ideas on how to improve fraud collections. I’ve been asked to do more than just my job … but it’s been rewarding. Thanks for allowing me to do that.”

One county welfare fraud fugitive with a $4,063 bill remains at large, the report showed.

“We have ideas where she is, but it’s the cost of getting her here. There is warrant for her arrest,” said Brown County Family Services Director Tom Henderson. “If big Minnesota counties had the will to collect welfare fraud, the State could lower its tax levy. It would be a good legislative bill to do.”

Henderson said Brown County is just a drop in the state welfare fraud bucket with one-half of one percent of statewide resources.

In other action, commissioners approved:

A resolution authorizing application for the Minnesota Housing and Finance Agency Homelessness Prevention and Assistance Program for the 2013-2015 biennium.

“Brown County needs to be a part of this,” Henderson said. “Some homeless people do show up here.”

According to the Accountable Care Act (ACA) update in the Family Services Consent Agenda, it appears county eligibility workers will continue to be depended upon as the human link to program recipients.

The Brown County Remonumentation Committee reported that Cottonwood Township redraw parcels are going well. Surveyed corners have improved (land) parcel line accuracy, according to the report.

The $40,000 remonumentation project will begin in Linden Township, continue in Lake Hanska and Sigel townships and end in Milford Township, as funding allows.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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