Housing Authority Determined to Stop Cheaters

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EAST STROUDSBURG -- A woman in the Poconos will spend up to two years in jail for lying about how much money she makes.

She did it to get government money for housing and for meals for her children at school.

Detectives say Dawn Babbitt of East Stroudsburg told the Housing Authority of Monroe County she was low-income.

But detectives say she was lying.

"I was able to obtain her bank records so I was able to find out she had over $100,000 that went through her checking account," said Joseph Coddington a Monroe County Detective.

That income was in 2011.

Detective Coddington did more digging and also found out Babbitt was in government-funded section 8 housing since 2009.

She also lied to the East Stroudsburg Area School District about her income so she could get free meals for her children.

Cases, like this one, make the Housing Authority of Monroe County upset and disappointed.

"It's a real big deal. We're talking about taxpayers money and this day in age, and economics is real tight, there's over 3,000 people on a waiting list. A combined waiting list of 3,000 people. We do not need to waste money like this," said Linda Kaufman of the Housing Authority of Monroe County.

When someone applies for assistance from the housing authority, workers look for "red flags" that tell them something "isn't adding up".

It took a combined effort of everyone who works at the housing authority, the county detective and residents who called in "tips" to figure out Babbitt wasn't telling the truth.

The Housing Authority of Monroe County wants everyone to know who wronged them. So the agency puts up pictures and news articles inside their waiting room of the criminals, letting everyone know, if you lie, you're going to get caught.

"When people are coming off of our waiting list, are told, the day they walk in, we are very serious about fraud. We're not kidding, you will go to jail," said Kaufman.

Babbitt's attorney believes his client shouldn't be in jail because she agreed to plead guilty and because Babbitt's abusive husband forced her to lie on her tax forms.