Columbia County Sheriff's Office
David W. Harrison, Jr., SHERIFF                     James R. Sweet, UNDERSHERIFF
Copyright ©2006 Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Hudson, NY 12534
                        July 10, 2009

Hudson, NY – Columbia County Sheriff David W. Harrison, Jr. reports that since development of the Columbia
County Welfare Fraud Task Force by Chairman Art Baer and the Board of Supervisors, its members have
been working to identify and investigate those who abuse public assistance by fraudulent criminal activity.  
Beginning April 1st, organization and training were the initial effort to familiarize members with the public
assistance system on both the state and local levels.  Actual investigations by the DSS and Sheriff’s Office
task force team began soon after in mid May and have resulted with 5 individuals being arrested on July 8th
at 8:30am by Sheriff’s Criminal Investigator John Rivero and Deputy Sheriffs Travis VanAlstyne and Jason

Arrested were Marc S. Rivenburgh, 45 years old of Robinson Street Hudson - Welfare Fraud 4th Degree,
Grand Larceny 4th Degree both Class E Felonies and Filing a False Written Instrument 1st Degree, also a
Class E Felony, Melissa A. Strack, 42 years old of route 9 Columbiaville - Welfare Fraud 4th Degree, Grand
Larceny 4th Degree both Class E Felonies, Renee L. Clarke, 37 years old of Maple Lane Mobile Home Park,
Livingston -  Filing a False Written Instrument 1st degree a class E Felony,Welfare Fraud 4th Degree, Grand
Larceny 4th Degree both Class E Felonies,  John H. Finkle, III 24 years old of route 9 Hudson - Welfare
Fraud 5th degree and Petit larceny both class A Misdemeanors, and 21 year old Mahyana Sanon of South
Front Street Hudson - Forgery in the 2nd degree, a Class D Felony and Filing a False Written Instrument a
Class E Felony, Welfare Fraud 5th degree and Petit Larceny both class A Misdemeanors.

Arraigned in the Hudson City Court by Judge Richard Koweek, each were remanded to the Columbia County
Jail.  Rivenburgh without bail, Clarke and Sanon were held in lieu of $500.00 cash or $1,000.00 bail bond,
Strack was held in lieu of $750.00 cash/$1,500 bail bond and Finkle was remanded on $250.00 cash/$500.00
bail bond.  They were directed to return to city court at a later time.

Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Art Baer, Sheriff Harrison, DSS Commissioner Paul Mossman, and
District Attorney Beth Cozzolino recognized the need for a Welfare Fraud Task Force and the direct
involvement of all of their agencies working together.  Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigator John Rivero was
assigned to work with Department of Social Services Investigators and District Attorney’s Office on April 1, of
this year.  

To date, as a result of the combined effort of those agencies involved, Columbia County has already realized
a savings of just over $51,000.00 in fraudulent claims and abuses to the public assistance system.

Sheriff Harrison said “This should be a message to those who would abuse the system to steal benefits and
money …public assistance is for those who need it.  If you steal it by fraudulent or other means, it’s a crime
and a team of well qualified and dedicated professionals may be knocking on your door.”

District Attorney Beth G. Cozzolino stated “These arrests demonstrate that those people who choose to steal
money from the public coffers will be found and prosecuted. The County Welfare Fraud Task Force is off to a
great start and demonstrates that focused efforts by DSS, the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s
Office against this fraud will continue to be effective.”

Social Services Commissioner Paul Mossman stated, “These arrests are a result of a continuing countywide
initiative by the Department of Social Services, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney and the County Attorney in
making Welfare Fraud a top priority.  I am proud and appreciative of the efforts of everyone involved,
particularly Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigator John Rivero, Social Services Resource Consultant Frank
Martin and Social Services Investigator John Ryder”.

Chairman Art Baer added,  "I am extremely pleased with the results of the task force; it is a great example of
effective inter-agency cooperation serving the public good".

The Chairman, Commissioner, District Attorney and Sheriff are committed to investigating, arresting and
prosecuting those individuals and/or companies who deceive the social services programs for the purposes
of illegally obtaining benefits they are not entitled to.  

To supplement its efforts, Task Force members announce the establishment of the
Columbia County
Welfare Fraud Hot-Line.
 By calling 518-822-8477 a person can leave information about suspected welfare
fraud.  The information is confidential and the caller is not required to leave their name.  Residents, taxpayers
and the general public may now assist the Columbia County Welfare Fraud Task Force by reporting fraud
and abuse of public assistance.  

Information of other crimes or suspicious activity may also be reported at this number.


518-822-TIPS (8477)