Disturbing news out of Ocean County today. After prosecutors charged so many Orthodox Jewish families with cheating the system, now it's been announced by the Office of State Comptroller they are offering an amnesty program to all other cheaters who have yet to be arrested. Except they refuse to call the amnesty program what it is.

"This is not an amnesty program. This is not a 'get of out jail free' card,'" Comptroller Philip Degnan told nj.com. "This is a chance for people to come into compliance without fear of prosecution."

Ah, so it's a chance to come clean without being prosecuted. How the hell is that NOT an amnesty program?

How will it work? The state comptroller told New Jersey 101.5's David Matthau, it's a program for anyone in Ocean County who believes they received Medicaid benefits improperly to withdraw from the benefits program, pay back the money and pay a civil fine, and avoid criminal prosecution. I love how the language in all this is being couched. Anyone who believes they received Medicaid benefits improperly. Yeah. Like it just was some crazy clerical error and not because families were gaming the system. Give me a break!

Many of these people already charged live in lavish houses and have million-dollar incomes yet are accused of knowingly cheating the system. That's pure greed, and it's pathetic. People who did this belong in prison. This amnesty program is a slap in the face to anyone who ever had tough times yet couldn't qualify for assistance. Actually it's a slap in the face to any of us who believe in justice, period.

To be part of the amnesty program, which of course they're pretending isn't one, you have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be an Ocean County resident;
  • Be or have been a recipient of Medicaid benefits;
  • Not have previously entered into a settlement with the OSC;
  • Not be the subject of a pending State or county criminal matter.

Thank God for the last part. At least that means this screwy deal isn't being offered to any of those already charged. But is it fair to stop the investigations when there's been such obvious wrongdoing for so long? No, it's not.

And spare me any talk of how this will save taxpayers money. It just isn't right to let people get away with what they've been doing without being sent to prison. I'm extremely disappointed in our government letting cheaters off the hook like this.

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