Miami-Dade Workers Accused of Stealing From Low-Income Energy Bill Program

Two employees in Miami-Dade County's Community Action Agency are facing charges after authorities say they stole funds that were supposed to help low-income residents with paying their energy bills.

Iraida Macias, 53, and Earlene Finney, 55, were booked into the Miami-Dade jail Friday on charges including grand theft, petit theft, official misconduct and organized fraud.

Macias was being held Friday on $50,000 bond while Finney was released on her own recognizance, jail records showed. It's unknown if they've hired attorneys.

Authorities say they received an anonymous complaint that Macias and Finney were circumventing the application process of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally-funded program administered by Miami-Dade.

Macias and Finney were interviewers whose job it was to determine if applicants met the income limitations necessary to receive the financial benefits, authorities said.

Between June 2010 and September 2012, Macias' FPL account received about $4,100 in LIHEAP funds, while Finney received about $6,200 from the program between 2010 and 2014, authorities said.

"Every theft by a governmental employee is a betrayal of the public trust. It is particularly disappointing when workers charged with helping the poor steal some of that money for themselves," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "With the filing of criminal charges, I’m certain that these individuals now understand that they have committed serious offenses just to put a few extra dollars into their pockets."

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