HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced that 15 state employees have been referred for disciplinary proceedings under the suspicion that they fraudulently applied for federal food assistance in the wake of  Hurricane Irene.

Benefits under the federal “Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program” were opened up to Connecticut families after the storm. The program allowed families to receive money to cover the cost of food that was spoiled during the storm.

More than 20,000 people applied, but there were income guidelines, and Malloy says certain state employees had no business getting the payments of up to $1,200.

Initially the investigation centered on the inaccurate reporting of income on aid applications. It was believed that some of the state workers who received aid were making too much money to qualify.

But, as the investigation continued it was discovered that some workers may have gone beyond merely lying about their income. It is now believed that some state workers may have gone as far as to claim that dead relatives were living in their homes.

Malloy promised that those workers found to have defrauded the program would be dealt with severely.

“If we find out that state employees or anyone else for that matter, used the occurrence of Tropical Storm Irene as an opportunity to defraud the disaster funding program, the consequences will be immediate and severe,” he said.

The names of the suspected 15 were found during an initial review of applications that were believed to be fraudulent. The Department of Social Services and the Office of Labor Relations have forwarded their names to the offices where they work.

How should state employees who submit fraudulent aid claims be dealt with? Add your thoughts in our comments section below …

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