- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A controversial program that allowed residents of one New Jersey county who received unwarranted Medicaid benefits to withdraw without prosecution has resulted in consent agreements with 159 residents who will repay $2.2 million.

The State Comptroller’s office launched the 90-day pilot program in Ocean County last September, three months after 26 Lakewood residents - including many members of the town’s large Orthodox Jewish community - were accused of wrongfully collecting more than $2 million in public-assistance benefits. The office announced the program’s results Tuesday.

But many residents criticized the program, claiming it allowed people to steal taxpayer money. Several residents shared outrage on social media and called for those who accepted the benefits to face prosecution.

In many cases, those charged were accused of falsely reporting or misreporting income to become eligible for assistance programs.

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