- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007

A D.C. Department of Human Services employee is the focus of a criminal investigation into how an escaped federal prisoner was able to obtain phony identification cards from the District that allowed him to receive more than $14,000 in food stamps, according to court records.

Ralph Johnson used at least five electronic benefit cards issued by the D.C. Department of Human Services to take on other identities after he escaped from federal custody, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in federal court in the District.

U.S. marshals arrested Johnson at his apartment in Southeast last month after receiving information about his location from a confidential informant, the affidavit states.

During the arrest, investigators found five identification cards issued by the D.C. Department of Human Services. The cards showed Johnson’s picture but were printed with the names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers of other persons, the affidavit states.

A city employee who processed applications for two of the cards later tried to enter Johnson’s apartment to retrieve “certain undisclosed items,” court records show.

The Washington Times is withholding the employee’s name because he has not been charged.

A spokesman for the D.C. Office of the Inspector General confirmed only that an investigation is pending.

A spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Human Services declined to comment and refused to confirm whether the investigation is widening.

According to court records, agents with the inspector general’s office executed a search warrant at Johnson’s apartment Jan. 25. They seized dozens of documents, including D.C. identification cards, an address book, business cards and bank deposit records.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the city employee knew Johnson and helped him obtain phony benefit cards, the affidavit states.

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