Social Security Pulls Financial Plug From Idaho Caregiver After Embezzlement Convictions


In the wake of two of its former employees being convicted of embezzlement, an Eastern Idaho social service provider has been told that many of its clients will be the ones who will suffer the consequences.

Barbara Water, the former manager of the Pocatello-based Aid for Friends—which operates a homeless shelter, transitional housing and provides food assistance to its city's most needy—was sentenced to five months in prison and $80,000 in restitution. Additionally, her assistant, Leslie Biggs, was sentenced to serve 21 months behind bars and pay $104,000 in restitution. Both were accused of stealing funds for their personal gain between 2008 and 2010. A third employee was also accused of embezzlement but cooperated in the investigation and was subsequently charged with misdemeanor petit theft.

And now, this morning's Idaho State Journal reports that Aid For Friends has received notification from the Social Security Administration that it could no longer bill SSI for services to its clients that are SSI eligible.

The Journal reports that Social Security's decision to back away from Aid For Friends will be devastating to the service provider, reducing the nonprofit's representative payee program from about 160 clients to fewer than 10.

“On Jan. 7, we were notified that Aid For Friends can no longer serve as a representative payee for Social Security and SSI clients,” Aid for Friends spokesman BJ Stensland told the Journal. “It’s my understanding this was a decision by Social Security over what had happened over the past three years.”