Skip to comments.State Employees Caught Stealing Welfare Benefits
Posted on 07/11/2011 6:29:15 PM PDT by The Magical Mischief Tour
It's the state agency responsible for Tennessee Welfare programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called Food Stamps and Families First.
But a NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered employees at the Department of Human Services illegally taking benefits for themselves.
Our investigation revealed a series of cases in just the last year that have embarrassed the department.
We found employees fired, even convicted of food stamp fraud and welfare fraud.
But what may be equally surprising is that more than ten percent of the employees working at DHS actually qualify for welfare programs their department oversees.
In just the last year, DHS has fired seven employees in connection with welfare fraud investigations and at least two others for taking cash meant for flood victims.
"For our employees to violate the public trust like this is just despicable," said Alan Hall, Inspector General for the Department of Human Services.
His department is responsible for finding fraud and abuse. Investigators discovered employees ripping off the program as part of separate schemes.
"It's embarrassing to prosecute your own employees for fraud and theft," Hall said.
Many of the cases involve the use of Electronic Benefit Cards or EBT cards.
They work like debit cards, and they are the way the state provides money to buy food or even cash to Tennessee citizens who qualify for assistance.
Last year surveillance cameras at a Nashville store caught DHS employee Leslie Alexander using an EBT card to buy items. The problem is the card wasn't hers.
Investigators say she used her position at DHS to set up fake EBT accounts.
She then gave EBT cards to her friends. Investigators say they stole tens of thousands of dollars.
Alexander was convicted and sentenced to 12 years. Much of her sentence will be suspended and she will be on probation.
But she is not alone.
Joe Cloyd worked as an eligibility counselor at the DHS office in Wilson County.
He's accused of taking someone else's EBT card and withdrawing money for himself.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked him, "Why were you using this EBT card inappropriately?"
Cloyd responded, "Well I won't have the time, but it was not so black and white."
He now faces criminal charges and admits he's repaying money to the state.
DHS Inspector General Alan Hall said, "He took benefits entitled to someone else who needed them at the time and took them for himself."
Documents show DHS has prosecuted four employees in the past year.
Leslie Alexander was convicted.
Joe Cloyd's case is still pending.
Alisa Harrison was an eligibility counselor charged with using a card that wasn't hers.
And Felisa Trotter was convicted for illegally getting food stamp benefits.
Investigators proved that she and her husband lied -- claiming they weren't married, which enabled her to qualify for benefits.
Ironically, Trotter worked in the appeals division and heard from people doing the same thing.
But what may be most surprising is that 593 DHS employees are currently receiving food stamp benefits.
That's more than ten percent of all the employees in the department.
The starting salary for an eligibility counselor is just over $26,500 a year. Eligibility Clerks make as little as 17,500 according to an ad for an open position on the state website.
"When you know the rules very well, if you're not honest, you start thinking about how to break the rules," Hall said.
Hall promises the department is stepping up efforts to find fraud and says no employee will get away with it for long.
"I believe they're the rare occurrences, because all of our employees want to do the right thing," Hall said.
The department has a welfare fraud hotline. The number is 1-800-241-2629.
Why? This person should swing from the end of a rope for this.
Baraq would be proud.
They don’t call him the Food Stamp President for nothing....
The fired employees are now elgible for food stamps.
The civil service pay that lousy? Or these are largely bogus "qualifications"?
Government employees taking entitlement to a whole new level. A turd world level.
Where’s the dirty cops in this thread? /Just playin’.
Why not? They’re stealing everything else.
One of em steals a little more than the others do?
Forced Charity is Robbery in itself!
Let's see ..... low pay, dishonest as hell and stealing with both hands, can't spell their own first names ......
Would it be rude of me to inquire about their ethnic affinity? And whether their spiritual affinity for the Osagyefo Maximum Leader has anything to do with their takings?
Anybody have a picture of our "Katrina" Looter Man he can post up?
What kind of explains the DHHS cult, is they recruit their workers from the welfare rolls...encourage them to become social(ist) workers after some taxpayer funded college courses.
So it's not just a coven of devil worshipers, it's a union-thug shop of devil worshipers.
(with apologies to evil vile witches)
And if I had stole from the government?
or even to warlocks?
“The fired employees are now elgible for food stamps.”
...and Unemployment, and Disability, if the firing caused them Emotional Stress.
...and we wonder why we’re broke.
Aaaah, the stealing takes place in the well paid legislature and the tax offices. The welfare office is only a middleman. And it’s difficult to say that you would never accept a tip from someone who robbed you....
If it was Uncle Sam, maybe a big deal would be made of it.
What Tennessee squanders has no effect on Texas or does it? Is Uncle Sam’s hand in this somehow?
I wonder if we could turn in that fraud that's squatting in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Win The Future's the difference?
The latter. You would be surprised how much a person can earn and still qualify for all kinds of government giveaways. Of course, it helps if you have 6 kids with no dad around, too.
Always remember that poverty statistics only include income (and reported income, at that). They do not consider all the government goodies that a person or family receives as income - food stamps, subsidized housing and utilities, meals at school for the kiddies, Medicaid, and even the free cell phones! You can be receiving all those benefits, and still be counted as living in poverty. People camped out on garbage dumps in S. America would not believe it.
Yep. Even with the GOP taking the state over that last couple of elections, this stuff still goes on.
I’m hoping this is the beginning of a process to weed out and stop this corruption.
But I’m afraid Gov. Haslam is weak RINO ala Lamar! and Corker (our US senators). Didn’t vote for any of them. I wrote myself in. Yes, they are almost as bad as Dems.
His new crusade is to “take the lead” on getting states to get together and create an exchange to force us all to pay sales taxes for online purchases from out of state.
Now, Tennessee has a sales and use tax law that, technically, that requires us to pay the sales tax on our out of state purchases individulatily. Business does to this because they are more audited. I filled out sales tax form in TN for years and we report it and pay it.
Of course individuals won’t on a book or CD, etc. But they are supposed to. Sometimes the government actually sends officers to the borders to follow people that cross into KY or AR to buy food with no tax. Ditto when our last socialist governor, Phil Bredsen, drastically raised the cigarette tax. The state police must have sent out dozens of cars to monitor this (no lie).
So, as usual a jerk politician focuses only on the revenue and never the bloated spending and corruption.
“Would it be rude of me to inquire about their ethnic affinity? And whether their spiritual affinity for the Osagyefo Maximum Leader has anything to do with their takings?”
Well, with names like “Felicia” and “Alicia”, I think your question has been answered.....