Edward Moses of Cato was nabbed in Fulton last month as a fugitive from justice from South Carolina. Since then, state officials have struggled to explain how a guy on his county’s Most Wanted list could get social services benefits from New York State without a simple background check.
Moses was arrested in the parking lot at Empower Federal Credit Union. A construction worker thought it was suspicious that Moses and his girlfriend were parked at the credit union on a day that it was closed for a holiday.
Police discovered Moses was wanted for trying to set his girlfriend on fire in 2010. He fled before police could take him into custody.
Fulton Police say that when Moses was asked for proof of his identity, he showed them his state-issued electronic benefits card.
He got the card because the state does not do background checks on its applicants. Instead, it asks them to answer a question on its application form: Are you “fleeing prosecution, confinement or conviction of a felony?”
Obviously, this way of checking is not working,” said State Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), who announced the drafting of a bill that will require the state to check all applicants for felony warrants.
The bill would also force people like Edward Moses to pay back the benefits they should not have gotten. Moses will not be required to pay back the money he received. People arrested for welfare fraud can be required to pay back as much as three times the amount of benefits they should not have received.
“Let me again point out the obvious: A man wanted for attempted murder, kidnapping and possession of a weapon was fleeing from the law AND receiving New York State benefits,” Barclay said. “Essentially, the state gave money to a known felon and enabled him to continue living as a free man. I’m happy to introduce legislation that would address this serious flaw in the system and hope my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate will help see that this passes.”