Seven ‘public servants’ indicted for Food Stamp fraud

It made barely a ripple in the national last week when initially reported, but seven state workers in Delaware were indicted for Food Stamp fraud totaling nearly a million dollars, with five arrested and two others at large.  An official statement from the Delaware state government reported on June 14:

Attorney General Matt Denn announced today the arrests and indictments of seven former state of Delaware employees for theft of federal money. All seven were employed by the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), and were responsible for issuing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, and three previous arrests were also related to the same investigation.

Two of the defendants were indicted and arrested last week, two others were indicted and remain at large, one was indicted and arrested previously and still faces charges, and two have already been convicted and sentenced.

The fraud was preposterously easy for the “public servants,” whose work involved handing out free money to members of the public who may or may not qualify (Food Stamp fraud is rampant).  It is all too easy to understand the temptation that free money dispensers face.

… investigators learned of fictitious and unauthorized EBT accounts created by Division of Social Services case workers responsible for case creation and maintenance, with each of the fraudulently created cases issued varying amounts of food benefits in the form of EBT cards. The investigation revealed that the fraudulent EBT cards were delivered to State Service Centers in New Castle and Kent County, and intercepted by the suspects working at those locations. Once intercepted, the cards were personally used or sold at a discount.

Fortunately, an audit was conducted and discovered something fishy going on.  Esteban Perra of Delawareonline reports:

The first case of suspected fraud was discovered in December 2014 by a supervisor within the Division of Social Services who could not find the required documentation to support a benefits case during her case reviews.

DHSS’s Audit and Recovery Management Services unit and the Division of Social Services began an internal investigation immediately, said Jill Fredel, a DHSS spokeswoman. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees and funds all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in Delaware and nationwide, was notified in January 2015 about the investigation and provided assistance and guidance throughout the process, Fredel said.

The Audit and Recovery Management Services unit found that seven employees created more than 100 fictitious SNAP cases to procure electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards that could be used to purchase food.

The cards were delivered to service centers, where they were picked up by the fraudsters, who either used them or sold them at a discount. 

Kudos to the auditor who was checking the paperwork documentation for pursuing the case, and to the law enforcement personnel who followed up.  I’d like to think audits would catch all fraud, but frankly, a little better preparation – generating the required paperwork – might have spared the miscreants any legal trouble.  Certainly a lot of non-public servant recipients get away with fraud.

The accused are:

Indicted and arrested last week were:

  • Detrich Simmons-Heath, 54, of Chestertown, Maryland – charged with Theft over $100,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct. Released on $6,000 unsecured bond.
  • Kamilah Laws, 39, of Wilmington – charged with Theft over $50,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct. Released on $5,000 unsecured bond.

Indicted last week and still at large are:

  • Jo Ellen Edwards, 61, of Felton – charged with Theft over $100,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct.
  • Shirlene Davis, 29, of Newark – charged with Theft over $100,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct.

Previously indicted, charges pending:

  • Nicole Stevens, 43, of Dover, was arrested in November 2015 on charges of Theft over $1,500, Official Misconduct, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and four counts of Unlawful Use of a Payment Card for stealing $8,092.

Previously convicted and sentenced:

  • Allison Rivera, 49, of Dover, pled guilty to Theft over $1,500, Unlawful Use of a Payment Card, and Falsifying Business Records, and was sentenced in April 2016 to two years of Level II probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $27,751.58.
  • Angelette Brown, 45, of Camden, pled guilty to Theft over $1,500, Unlawful Use of a Payment Card, and Official Misconduct and was sentenced to April 2016 to two years of Level II probation, ordered to do 240 hours of community service, and forced to repay the $15,957 she took.

The five who have been arrested are pictured in a graphic from Fox News:

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman, 100percentfedup

It made barely a ripple in the national last week when initially reported, but seven state workers in Delaware were indicted for Food Stamp fraud totaling nearly a million dollars, with five arrested and two others at large.  An official statement from the Delaware state government reported on June 14:

Attorney General Matt Denn announced today the arrests and indictments of seven former state of Delaware employees for theft of federal money. All seven were employed by the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), and were responsible for issuing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, and three previous arrests were also related to the same investigation.

Two of the defendants were indicted and arrested last week, two others were indicted and remain at large, one was indicted and arrested previously and still faces charges, and two have already been convicted and sentenced.

The fraud was preposterously easy for the “public servants,” whose work involved handing out free money to members of the public who may or may not qualify (Food Stamp fraud is rampant).  It is all too easy to understand the temptation that free money dispensers face.

… investigators learned of fictitious and unauthorized EBT accounts created by Division of Social Services case workers responsible for case creation and maintenance, with each of the fraudulently created cases issued varying amounts of food benefits in the form of EBT cards. The investigation revealed that the fraudulent EBT cards were delivered to State Service Centers in New Castle and Kent County, and intercepted by the suspects working at those locations. Once intercepted, the cards were personally used or sold at a discount.

Fortunately, an audit was conducted and discovered something fishy going on.  Esteban Perra of Delawareonline reports:

The first case of suspected fraud was discovered in December 2014 by a supervisor within the Division of Social Services who could not find the required documentation to support a benefits case during her case reviews.

DHSS’s Audit and Recovery Management Services unit and the Division of Social Services began an internal investigation immediately, said Jill Fredel, a DHSS spokeswoman. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees and funds all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in Delaware and nationwide, was notified in January 2015 about the investigation and provided assistance and guidance throughout the process, Fredel said.

The Audit and Recovery Management Services unit found that seven employees created more than 100 fictitious SNAP cases to procure electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards that could be used to purchase food.

The cards were delivered to service centers, where they were picked up by the fraudsters, who either used them or sold them at a discount. 

Kudos to the auditor who was checking the paperwork documentation for pursuing the case, and to the law enforcement personnel who followed up.  I’d like to think audits would catch all fraud, but frankly, a little better preparation – generating the required paperwork – might have spared the miscreants any legal trouble.  Certainly a lot of non-public servant recipients get away with fraud.

The accused are:

Indicted and arrested last week were:

  • Detrich Simmons-Heath, 54, of Chestertown, Maryland – charged with Theft over $100,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct. Released on $6,000 unsecured bond.
  • Kamilah Laws, 39, of Wilmington – charged with Theft over $50,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct. Released on $5,000 unsecured bond.

Indicted last week and still at large are:

  • Jo Ellen Edwards, 61, of Felton – charged with Theft over $100,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct.
  • Shirlene Davis, 29, of Newark – charged with Theft over $100,000, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and Official Misconduct.

Previously indicted, charges pending:

  • Nicole Stevens, 43, of Dover, was arrested in November 2015 on charges of Theft over $1,500, Official Misconduct, Forgery First Degree, Falsifying Business Records, and four counts of Unlawful Use of a Payment Card for stealing $8,092.

Previously convicted and sentenced:

  • Allison Rivera, 49, of Dover, pled guilty to Theft over $1,500, Unlawful Use of a Payment Card, and Falsifying Business Records, and was sentenced in April 2016 to two years of Level II probation, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $27,751.58.
  • Angelette Brown, 45, of Camden, pled guilty to Theft over $1,500, Unlawful Use of a Payment Card, and Official Misconduct and was sentenced to April 2016 to two years of Level II probation, ordered to do 240 hours of community service, and forced to repay the $15,957 she took.

The five who have been arrested are pictured in a graphic from Fox News:

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman, 100percentfedup