Welfare Fraud Allegations, BigLaw Wife Collected Over $100,000 In Benefits
Mar 14, 2017 06:15 AM EDT
An Arlington woman was arrested this week and charged with four counts of welfare fraud for collecting over $100,000 in benefits. Her husband was a high-earning attorney for a BigLaw firm in D.C., police say.
Although the welfare fraud allegations are hard to believe, it is also hard to ignore. A six-month investigation launched over Helen Agbapuruonwu, 41, discovered that the mother of four had collected benefits like Medicaid assistance and food stamps for the past six years, according to NBC.
While Helen was busy collecting benefits, her husband, Fidelis Agbapuruonwu, was earning $1.5 million per year as a lawyer. Fidelis' LinkedIn page claims he works for the D.C. firm of Mayer Brown, but the firm said he no longer works there. Court officials believe Fidelis, a Nigerian immigrant, has "fled the country and is somewhere in Africa."
The incidence of welfare fraud has been very low in the country. However, high-profile cases such as this remain to be the big headline among people and fuel the view that millions are improperly claiming entitlement to public assistance.
Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told NBC regarding the Agbapuruonwu allegations, "We hope it sends a message that if you are taking public assistance it's truly intended for those in need, and we're committed to ensuring those who need the most help receive it." Law enforcement authorities elaborate cases like this to the public to establish deterrence of future welfare fraud incidences.
There have been many views on Helen's side of the story. Some think the Agbapuruonwus are divorced or separated, and Fidelis isn't paying alimony or child support, according to ABA Journal.
Although the highly speculative theory may be correct in the welfare fraud allegations, one then must wonder whether Helen made any effort through legal channels to get money from Fidelis and, if so, whether any such effort was successful. As of now, we may not know what the real case is, as her lawyer has declined to comment on the case.