LAKEWOOD — An additional 12 people were charged on Thursday morning as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged welfare and government services fraud.

The latest arrests by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office brings the total number of township residents charged in the case to 26 and the amount of alleged fraud to nearly $2.4 million. Thursday's arrests alone are over about $400,000 in alleged fraud.

Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said that as in the previous two rounds of arrests, the defendants are accused of misrepresenting their income — saying it's low enough to qualify for benefits, when it's not. The defendants also received income from a variety of sources they failed to disclose, Coronato said.

Those arrested on Thursday were all served complaint summons for third-degree theft by deception:

  • Eliezer, 33, and Elkie, 31, Sorotzkin, of Isabella Drive, accused of wrongfully collecting approximately $74,960 in Medicaid benefits between January 2011 and December 2013.
  • Samuel Serhofer, 45, and Esther Serhofer, 44, of Whispering Pines Lane, accused of wrongfully collecting approximately $72,685 in Medicaid benefits between January 2009 and December 2013.
  • Yisroel Merkin, 37, and Rachel Merkin, 34, of Hermosa Drive, accused of wrongfully collecting approximately $70,557.51 in Medicaid, SNAP, and HEAP benefits between January 2011 and December 2014.
  • Jerome Menchel, 33, and Mottel Friedman, 30, of Pressburg Lane, accused of wrongfully collecting $63,839 in Medicaid and SNAP benefits between January 2011 and July 2014.
  • Tzvi Braun, 35, and Estee Braun, 34, of Ridge Avenue, accused of wrongfully collecting $62,746.74 in Medicaid, HEAP, and CICRF benefits between January 2009 and December 2013.
  • Moshe Hirschmann, 30, and Nechama Hirschmann, 27, of Emmanuel Drive, accused of wrongfully collecting $53,418.39 in Medicaid and SNAP benefits between January 2011 and December 2015.

Connado said all those arrested so far in the ongoing investigation may face additional charges.

The investigation also involves the FBI's Red Bank Office and the Office of the State Comptroller's Medicaid Fraud Division, the U.S. Social Security Administration, the state Department of the Treasury's Office of Criminal Investigation, and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office's Economic Crimes Unit.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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