Welfare Queen Crack Ring Busted

Your tax dollars at work (double entendre intended).

The police say that Joanna “Rosa” Gonzalez, a 28-year-old mother of two in Wanskuck, was employing dozens of people including her mother, her sister, their boyfriends, and their children in a crack-cocaine enterprise that covered the city from the North End to the West Side.
The operation was run as efficiently as if Gonzalez had taken a page out of a business-management textbook — so lucrative, the police said, that she and several other welfare recipients working for her drove expensive luxury cars and made thousands of dollars. It was a family business, said Lt. Thomas Verdi, head of the Providence police narcotics unit, where even the young children were involved as lookouts and drug runners with drugs stashed in their backpacks for delivery.
But the business closed last week, when the police locked up 17 people, charging Gonzalez, her family and other alleged top managers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. The Providence police and Drug Enforcement Agency announced the outcome of “Operation Rosa” yesterday.
***
Gonzalez, who is 8½ months pregnant, is being held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions, along with her alleged drug supplier, “enforcer,” “banker,” “managers” and “distributors,” said Assistant Attorney General Bethany Macktaz. Her two children, ages 9 and 12, are now in the custody of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. “It’s just sickening,” Verdi said yesterday. “[Gonzalez] was pretty much grooming them to do what she does.”
The police searched five residences and four bank accounts, seizing $52,000 and a loaded .32-caliber pistol that was stolen.
They also seized vehicles worth a total of $300,000 that were owned by some of the drug operators claiming welfare checks, according to Providence Detective Sgt. Patrick McNulty.
That included Gonzalez, who had a Porsche, 2002 Kawasaki motorcycle and Nissan Maxima, McNulty said. Her alleged “banker,” Virgen Chadheen, 40, who the police said was on welfare, had a Cadillac Escalade. Her alleged “supplier,” John Delarosa, 33, whose wife receives state assistance, had a Mazda MPV and a Mercedes S550. And police said welfare recipient Henry Grullon, 36, an alleged business “associate” and boyfriend of Gonzalez’s sister, owned a Lincoln Navigator, BMW 745i, Suzuki and Honda motorcycles — and a rundown Dodge minivan.

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Greg
Greg
14 years ago

And this surprises who?

WJF
WJF
14 years ago

The value of ones vehicle has an impact on welfare received.
From DHS Code of Rules:
0822.15.10.15 Valuation of Vehicles
REV:02/2004
Each vehicle owned by the household is handled as follows.
First, determine if the motor vehicle is excluded under Section 0822.10.20. If the vehicle(s) is excluded, no further action is required. If the vehicle is not excluded, count the vehicle’s equity value (which is fair market value less encumbrances) towards the household’s resource limit of one thousand dollars ($1,000).
*********
Considering Rosa had a Porsche SUV (which I believe is valued over $1000), I wonder why this red flag wasn’t noticed by the DHS caseworker.
Maybe because the exemption noted above (0822.10.20) relates to vehicles needed for employment. If your gonna run a crack house, you gotta have a porsche SUV.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>I wonder why this red flag wasn’t noticed by the DHS caseworker.
The welfare pushers, err, I mean DHS employees’ motto is: “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

If the people administering RI welfare programs are going to yell about budget reductions, they should at least be able to show they can administer the programs that they’re supposed to be administering.
This outrageous story shows they aren’t.

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

I take it that Greg means, “it is not surprising that someone who deals crack would also be willing to defraud the taxpayers”.
I assume he does not mean, “it is not surprising that someone who is on AFDC is also a crack dealer”.
Or do I misunderstand?

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

Anthony said:
“If the people administering RI welfare programs are going to yell about budget reductions, they should at least be able to show they can administer the programs that they’re supposed to be administering.
This outrageous story shows they aren’t.”
So much of our policy discussion seems to be driven by “outrageous stories”. Does this story show that welfare recipients are gangsters? That welfare administrators don’t care or have lost control? Does Enron show that corporate bosses are evil? I think that we can find some such story about anyone you choose: cops, investment bankers, teachers, etc, etc. I’m not sure what these stories prove.
If we let these stories drive policy, I think we’re in trouble. Ronald Reagan’s original “welfare queen” story is a great example. Since every system is subject to cheating, wouldn’t it be better to find out what the rate of cheating in a particular system is, and to ask whether there is something about the system and its monitoring processes that encourages cheating?
Query for fun: Which is the greatest number: welfare cheaters/frauds or high-income tax cheats? Would we save more by fixing the welfare system or the IRS?

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

Thomas,
You’re missing a major difference between welfare cheats and IRS cheats. Cheating the IRS is about keeping your own money. Cheating welfare is about taking someone elses money for your use. See the difference? If you can’t then you’re definitely a liberal. lol
I love this story because it captures the essence of Rhode Island in every way. There is little difference in the entitlement attitude between Ms. Gonzalez and AFL-CIO George Nee or NEA Bob Walsh. Very little difference. They’e all bloated leeches sucking off the state system.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

“That welfare administrators don’t care or have lost control?”
Yes. (Keep those softballs coming.)
“I’m not sure what these stories prove. If we let these stories drive policy, I think we’re in trouble.”
Actually, what they do is spark an opportunity to re-examine current policy.
For example, where do you think our limited tax dollars should be spent, Thomas? On maximum funding of social programs which have created generational cycles of bad personal decisions or on promises made to public employees (i.e., pensions)?
Pensions which, by all means, should be converted today to 401K’s across the board. But however this is handled, it will require revenue.

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

Tim,
You appear to think that cheating on your taxes is legitimate and only “liberals” would think otherwise. It used to be that conservatives put a high value on obeying the law until it could be changed through legal process, and liberals were the lawbreakers. Things do change, don’t they?
In fact, when you cheat on your taxes, you drive the rest of our taxes up. You also consume the things our tax dollars paid for (roads, police, etc, etc.). In fact you are stealing my money.
SusanD- Yes, the stories can spark opportunities for discussion. Unfortunately, some people skip the discussion and jump right to the conclusion.
I’m probably a lot closer to you on the substance of the issues than you think. The point I’ve been trying to make is that the slogans and name-calling and demonizing prevent people from finding workable solutions,
“For example, where do you think our limited tax dollars should be spent, Thomas? On maximum funding of social programs which have created generational cycles of bad personal decisions….”
Um…this isn’t a loaded question, is it? 🙂

chuckR
chuckR
14 years ago

What would you have caseworkers do? Do you suppose they have the time for surveillance like the Prov cops and DEA do? Do you think people like Gonzalez will have their Porsches proudly parked out front of their apartments when the caseworker visits?
About all I think should come of this is a mandate requiring cross comparisons of the welfare and DMV databases. Can’t do that? Thats where I get upset, because its as easy as falling off a log, or should be. That would just catch the stupid ones, probably not Gonzalez, who could register a business name for a few bucks and loan it a few bricks of twenties to buy the Cayenne. This is a man bites dog story, featuring a lazy and evil, but cunning and organized woman.
I’d rather the caseworkers were pressed to move people off welfare and the legislature were pressed to make RI less attractive for welfare benefits.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

Would someone please explain to me WHERE in the U.S. Constitution the federal government is even authorized – much less required – to engage in compulsory charity a/k/a WELFARE?
I’ve read the U.S. Constitution any number of times and haven’t yet been able to find that clause.

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

Posted by Thomas at July 13, 2007 9:40 AM
In fact, when you cheat on your taxes, you drive the rest of our taxes up. You also consume the things our tax dollars paid for (roads, police, etc, etc.). In fact you are stealing my money.
XXX
Since millions of people cheat on their taxes we should legalize it-since we have learned from the pro-illegal crowd that “You can’t round ’em all up!”

Andrew
Editor
14 years ago

Mike,
Those people are not cheating on their taxes. They’re just retaining undocumented income. We need an amnesty, to get them out of the shadows, because throwing them all in jail is not a realistic alternative.

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

Tom W:
Article I, section 8, clause 1:
Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States
No, “welfare” here does not mean “Aid to Families with Dependent Children” (what we today call “welfare”, but “well-being”. The taxing and spending power is broader than any of direct regulatory powers. AFDC may be bad policy, but it’s not unconstitutional.

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

ChuckR said:
“About all I think should come of this is a mandate requiring cross comparisons of the welfare and DMV databases. ”
Wow. An actual practical, workable policy proposal for the exact problem that the “Rosa” story identified. Thank you. Non-ideological too….who *won’t* agree that this should be done?
Now, how many folks here will actually pick up the phone to call their reps and senators to tell them to get busy drafting a law to require this. Or, the governors’ office, in case the agencies themselves can accomplish this?

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

This story’s not about politics. It’s about some bad eggs out there, and government officials who should’ve been more vigilant.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>Article I, section 8, clause 1:
Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States
I’m aware of the “general welfare” clause, and that it is often cited as “authority” for social welfare programs.
The problem is, this rationale is fallacious.
To give “general welfare” such an expansive reading would be to render most of the rest of the Constitution a nullity, particularly the Tenth Amendment, for Congress could then claim that ANYTHING it wants to expend money on is for the “general welfare.” Clearly the Founders did not intend this.
Also, the preceding reference to common defense provides a context – the “general welfare” means activities that benefit every citizen equally, without regard to race, income, etc.
Finally, if the “general welfare” clause is (and was intended to be) as expansive as the welfare advocates / apologists maintain, FDR wouldn’t have had to go through the gyrations he did (such as attempting to pack the Supreme Court) to bend the Commerce Clause out of all recognition to provide an avenue to enact (the then understood to be unconstitutional) “New Deal.” He need merely to have gotten his Democrat Congress to declare that the “New Deal” was for the “general welfare.”
So, back to my original question …

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

Tom W,
Oh. I thought you were really asking what in the Constitution authorizes Congress to tax and spend for AFDC. Since you already know the answer, you’re really saying that you disagree with the theory of the tax and spend clause that has been accepted by every member of the Supreme Court, Democrat or Republican, since the Constitutional revolution of 1937 (or the retirement of the last of the Four Horsemen in 1941).
That’s a different debate.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>Oh. I thought you were really asking what in the Constitution authorizes Congress to tax and spend for AFDC. Since you already know the answer, you’re really saying that you disagree with the theory of the tax and spend clause that has been accepted by every member of the Supreme Court, Democrat or Republican, since the Constitutional revolution of 1937 (or the retirement of the last of the Four Horsemen in 1941).
That’s a different debate.
I was asking rhetorically.
I very much look forward to the counter-revolution to FDR’s revolution, and the full restoration of the U.S. Constitution to its proper place and interpretation.
Alas, I believe it will take another decade or two – the political class and electorate aren’t educated enough concerning history and Constitutional interpretation AND economically / politically aren’t inclined to accept even if they were so educated.
However, once Social Security and Medicare go cash-flow negative and ultimately collapse, people will once again be inclined to prefer individual independence to government dependence, as they’ll have been burned and realized the folly of relying on government and politicians.

WJF
WJF
14 years ago

About a year ago, Ch 10 did a story on welfare fraud.
“In fact, the DHS director said attempted fraud detected at application time and the actual fraud caught in
just two of the five public assistance programs for children and families — FIP and food stamps —
amounts to $14 million a year alone.”
And that was what they knew about, as we see, it is far more than that.
We can thank then AG Whitehouse for eliminating the welfare fraud detection unit.

WJF
WJF
14 years ago

I just read today’s article. Interesting that they note that the only way we determine what vehicles entitlement applicants own is by asking the applicant (and yes, we call it an entitlement, the only state to do so).
When it was claimed that RI attracts people from outside the state for our benefits, Angel Tavares wrote in the ProJo that this is not true because DHS records do not report a high number of people from outside the state (where time spent on welfare would count against them). Mr. Tavares forgot to mention that past residence, like vehicle ownerships, is self reported.
So lets see, we trust 100% of the applicants to be honest in their reporting, and we only ask for yearly check-ins.
And we wonder why people stay on welfare in RI longer than any other state, why we have low work participation rates, high rates of single parent families, high rates of births to teen MOTHERS (teens having 2nd or 3rd child). And we wonder…

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

Tom W said: “I very much look forward to the counter-revolution to FDR’s revolution, and the full restoration of the U.S. Constitution to its proper place and interpretation.” There’s an alternative point of view on this, which says that FDR’s revolution was itself a counter-revolution to the laissez faire jurisprudence of the “Lochner Court”, (1900-1930) which was itself ungrounded in history. That is to say, that the New Deal court (and the subsequent 70 years) are closer to the original understanding of the Constitution than the view you seem to want to restore. John Marshall’s opinion in McCulloch v. Maryland of 1819 states a view of Congress’ power that is extremely robust and flexible: “The subject is the execution of those great powers on which the welfare of a nation essentially depends. It must have been the intention of those who gave these powers to insure, as far as human prudence could insure, their beneficial execution. This could not be done by confiding the choice of means to such narrow limits as not to leave it in the power of Congress to adopt any which might be appropriate, and which were conducive to the end. This provision is made in a constitution intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs. To have prescribed the means by which government should, in all future time, execute its powers, would have been to change, entirely, the character of the instrument, and give it the properties of a legal code. It would have been an unwise attempt to provide, by immutable rules, for exigencies which, if foreseen at all, must have been seen dimly, and which can be best provided for as they occur.” It is true that Marshall as a delegate to… Read more »

Pat
Pat
14 years ago

” along with her alleged drug supplier, “enforcer,” “banker,” “managers” and “distributors,” ”
sounds pretty entrepreneurial to me… maybe this is a story about how unregulated capitalism is a bad thing after all….. once again, Adam Smith’s invisible finger at work….

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
14 years ago

Tim,
Bloated leeches? Comparing union officials to a crack dealer? Your maturity and in-sight, as well as your ability to stay on topic, are as impressive as your rhetoric.
But then again, you are one of the few truly anonymous people to post on this BLOG. Cowardice? Cheating on your taxes as your post implies? Something else to hide? Or maybe Mommy took your computer privileges away.
There is a fair amount of serious, thoughtful commentary about important topics on this BLOG (much of which I disagree with, but learn from). Too bad we cannot set up a talk radio section for the rest of it.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

But McCulloch v. Maryland stands for the proposition that Congress has expansive powers to choose the means “necessary and proper” to execute the power specifically enumerated (delegated) to it, not expansive powers extending the scope of, or end-running, its enumerated powers (see excerpt below). Otherwise, FDR and his newly-obedient Supreme Court could merely have relied on this case and “general welfare” to enact the New Deal – and not needed the Orwellian re-definition of the Constitution’s enumerated powers to regulate commerce (which any fair reading means things such as interstate tariffs, not virtually every human activity). “For example, the power of coining money implies the power of establishing a mint. The power of laying and collecting taxes implies the power of regulating the mode of assessment and collection, and of appointing revenue officers; but it does not imply the power of establishing a great banking corporation, branching out into every district of the country, and inundating it with a flood of paper-money. To derive such a tremendous authority from implication, would be to change the subordinate into fundamental powers; to make the implied powers greater than those which are expressly granted; and to change the whole scheme and theory of the government. It is well known, that many of the powers which are expressly [17 U.S. 316, 366] granted to the national government in the constitution, were most reluctantly conceded by the people, who were lulled into confidence, by the assurances of its advocates, that it contained no latent ambiguity, but was to be limited to the literal terms of the grant: and in order to quiet all alarm, the 10th article of amendments was added, declaring ‘that the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the… Read more »

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

Hey Bob Walsh_
Do you really think the suckers (er-taxpayers) are going to allow contributions to your and Reback’s unions to TRIPLE again to 75% over the next 8 years like they have over the last 8, from 9% to 25%+?
Judgement day is coming baby. Welcome to the real world.
You better not shout
you better not whine
you better not cry
I’m telling you why
401 K’s are coming to town!

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

Tom W- I was at first puzzled by the “excerpt” you provide. An excerpt of what? Certainly not of Marshall’s opinion in McCulloch, because the excerpt’s thrust directly contradicts Marshall’s argument. A little digging uncovers that the “excerpt” is actually from the argument of the State’s attorney for Maryland (which court reporters of the time included in the notes before the Court’s opinion). It is exactly the argument that Marshall rejected when he ruled against Maryland and for the U.S.. It is not law. Nor, I think, is it correct. I think you and I may agree that Article I does not allow Congress to legislate for the general welfare. I agree with you that Congress’ power to enact direct regulations of behavior must rest on the enumerated powers, and those regulations must be “necessary and proper” to carrying out those enumerated powers. But the Tax and Spend clause works differently. Congress can tax and spend to advance the “general welfare”, and this power is complete in itself. Through it, Congress can achieve goals that it cannot directly legislate, as long as in doing so it does not violate the specific prohibitions in the Constitution; those, for instance in the Bill of Rights. (I’ll admit that the line between direct reglulation and coercive taxation is sometimes unclear, but it is not nonexistent). The New Deal program was, for the most part, not an exercise of the taxing and spending power, but a direct regulation of individual and corporate behavior. As such, it needed to be grounded in the commerce power, not the tax and spend power. To do this, the Court had to get past the crabbed view of the commerce power presented in the Schecter and Carter Coal cases. It did so in NLRB v. Jones and Laughlin Steel.… Read more »

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
14 years ago

Mike,
When you learn the math behind the pension issue, you will realize that you are incorrect. Do you actually believe that a combined contribution of almost 35% of salary annually is needed to sustain the pension benefits in even the original system, let alone the “plan B” system? It is the unfunded liablity that is the major issue, and tht does not go away udner a 401 (k) scheme – it actually gets worse!
You seem to be in the category of people who only feel better about themselves when everyone else is doing worse – do you actually believe that it helps the economy to have even more people insecure in retirement?

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

Bob,
So thrilled you’re offended by my bloated leech comment. Makes my day! Methinks comparing the amount of taxpayer leeching your gang is responsible for in comparision to Ms. Gonzalez gang is quite a legit take given the subtitle of this thread ‘Your tax dollars at work’ and your comments in yesterday’s Projo about our fine pension system. Bloated union leeches like you and Jorge Nee have done far more damage to this state than 1000 Ms. Gonzales ever could. Just look around union controlled Rhode Island to know the truth of that statement.
Now this is rich. I’m being lectured on rhetoric and maturity from Bob Walsh? lol Bob your union indoctrination is so complete you couldn’t go to confession without union talking points to read from. Btw how’s the recall effort coming mature and rhetoric free Bob? lol As I stated in a prior response to your NEA comrade Pat I actually feel pity for you and your ilk. You have no individual identity or soul. It’s really quite a sad and pathetic spectacle. One last thing Bob if I may. Why are you shouting BLOG and what’s with the talk radio reference? Angry because you and your ilk can’t control either? Ouch!

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

” along with her alleged drug supplier, “enforcer,” “banker,” “managers” and “distributors,” ”
sounds pretty entrepreneurial to me… maybe this is a story about how unregulated capitalism is a bad thing after all….. once again, Adam Smith’s invisible finger at work…. (Pat)
Actually Pat this is the hierarchy model used by WorkingRI.

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

“You appear to think that cheating on your taxes is legitimate and only “liberals” would think otherwise. It used to be that conservatives put a high value on obeying the law until it could be changed through legal process, and liberals were the lawbreakers. Things do change, don’t they?” (Thomas)
Nice spin Thomas but that’s not what I said. I’m not advocating cheating on anything. I’m merely pointing out that you can’t seem to differentiate between those in this society who survive by making money and supporting themselves versus those in this society who take from others as a way to support themselves. It’s definitely a liberal mindset that says what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.

Thomas
Thomas
14 years ago

Tim,
There was no spin there. You said, “Cheating the IRS is about keeping your own money.” The implication is clearly that it’s not morally wrong to do so, no?.
You say, “you can’t seem to differentiate between those in this society who survive by making money and supporting themselves versus those in this society who take from others as a way to support themselves”. Please use a direct quote to identify one thing I said that supports this statement.
If you want to have a serious discussion about taxes or whatever, I’m game. If you just want to label and ridicule, I’ll pass, thank you.

Mike
Mike
14 years ago

When you learn the math behind the pension issue, you will realize that you are incorrect. Do you actually believe that a combined contribution of almost 35% of salary annually is needed to sustain the pension benefits in even the original system, let alone the “plan B” system? It is the unfunded liablity that is the major issue, and tht does not go away udner a 401 (k) scheme – it actually gets worse!
Posted by Bob Walsh at July 13, 2007 11:15 PM
XXX
This is sophistry at its worst. What needs to be done is limit the contributions to working teachers to 9.5% and use the rest to pay down the unfunded liability-which by the way was caused by decades of GA, school commitee and city council action all controlled by your and Reback’s unions. We aren’t forgetting about the 20% co-shares either! Sleep tight.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

“Jorge Nee”
lol

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>When you learn the math behind the pension issue, you will realize that you are incorrect. Do you actually believe that a combined contribution of almost 35% of salary annually is needed to sustain the pension benefits in even the original system, let alone the “plan B” system? It is the unfunded liablity that is the major issue, and tht does not go away udner a 401 (k) scheme – it actually gets worse! The unfunded liability is an estimate based upon the current AND projected draws on the system vs. available assets and projected rate of return. In other words, it is a “snapshot” projection based upon nothing changing in the current plan. If the plan was frozen right now, e.g., a 12t year employee would keep whatever pension benefit they have “vested” in to date, but going forward would accumulate no more years of “vesting credit” – the projected draws on the system would decrease dramatically. A state employee / teacher with 20 years and above of service will still have “vested” in a SWEET pension benefit, for which they should feel darn lucky. The younger workers will still have plenty of time to adjust and accumulate plenty of assets under a 401(k) with a match comparable to those offered in the private sector. Particularly if we … Add in a requirement aligning state pension benefit retirement ages with Social Security retirement ages. Except perhaps for police and fire personnel and the physical demands of their positions, it is unconscionable that and state employees / teachers have no minimum retirement age and are collecting pensions in their early / mid fifties. And while an accommodation should be made for police and fire personnel, unless they are disabled the fact that their bodies may not be up to continuing… Read more »

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