Herrneckars appear in Bath surrogate court

Andrew Poole

A Hartsville town board member and her husband appeared in surrogate court late Tuesday morning before Judge Marianne Furfure on felony fraud charges, but their scheduled arraignment was pushed back to July 5.

Michele Herrneckar, 48, is facing one count of third-degree welfare fraud, a class D felony, and 10 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a class E felony.

Philipp Herrneckar, 63, is facing two counts of third-degree welfare fraud and 10 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

The couple appeared without a lawyer and stood silently while Furfure read the 15-page indictment.

Bath-based attorney David Wallace is no longer representing the couple. The Herrneckars are applying for a public defender, and will continue to be released on their own recognizance.

Michele Herrneckar declined to answer questions after the arraignment, and Wallace didn’t return phone messages by press time.

According to the indictment for the welfare fraud charge, Michele Herrneckar allegedly received more than $3,000 in public benefits from the county Department of Social Services between January 2006 and February 2010.

In each of the welfare fraud indictments against Philipp Herrneckar, it’s alleged he received more than $3,000 in public benefits from the county Department of Social Services between January 2006 to October 2006 and April 2007 to February 2010, respectively.

Other charges accuse the Herrneckars of knowingly filing false documents to receive public assistance benefits, including food stamps and Medicaid.

A previous release from the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office claimed Michele Herrneckar received $38,000 in fraudulent benefits, while her husband received $24,000 in benefits.

Herrneckar has maintained that she will not step down from the Hartsville town board. Her position on the board is coming up for re-election in November.

“Why would I step down when I haven’t been convicted?” she said previously.

The Herrneckars were first charged in September 2010. Several days after news of the charges broke, Michelle Herrneckar proclaimed at a town meeting that any residents with questions “can feel free to call me and I will answer them.”

A felony conviction would result in her losing her position as councilwoman.

The Herrneckars are due in court at 3 p.m. July 5.