- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
La. food stamps stripped because of overspending
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s social services department said Monday it has stripped food stamps from six people who deliberately overspent their monthly benefits when the electronic service was down in October and was working to disqualify another 25 people.
Details of possible fraud also have been shared with local law enforcement, for district attorneys to decide if they want to prosecute people for knowingly breaching the limits on their monthly food stamp benefits.
The Department of Children and Family Services said it continues to work through the administrative hearing process, targeting 500 people out of 12,000 transactions that overspent available food stamp benefits four months ago during the system crash.
Several Louisiana retailers allowed food stamp recipients to make unlimited purchases on Oct. 12, when the electronic card system was down and balances couldn’t be checked. News reports showed carts at some stores piled high with groceries that were abandoned after the system was back online.
About 12,000 insufficient funds transactions were conducted when the contractor, Xerox Corp., had technical problems that shut down the system, though not all transactions are assumed to be intentionally fraudulent.
DCFS said it identified 500 deemed to be the “most egregious transgressors,” who took advantage of the computer snafu and tried to spend a combined $315,000 they didn’t have in available benefits. The transactions ranged from $300 to $2,000.
Letters were sent, targeting them for disqualification from the program. The department said it has received 113 responses so far.
The responses “have ranged from admitting to committing the fraudulent transactions, to declaring no knowledge of the transactions, and to stating that the retailer told the clients it was ‘okay’ to perform the transaction because ‘the government was shut down,’ ” Sonnier said.
No taxpayer dollars paid for the improper food stamp purchases because DCFS says it didn’t cover the costs of retailers who didn’t follow the outlined emergency process for when the electronic system crashes.
The sanctions under federal guidelines allow a one-year suspension of food stamps for a first offense, a two-year suspension for a second offense and a permanent disqualification from the program for a third offense, according to DCFS.
The agency said it provided state and local law enforcement with the information it has gathered about the overspending.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter has complained that state officials weren’t aggressively pursuing the overspending as food stamp fraud, and Treasurer John Kennedy recently criticized the department as being too lax in its response to known misuse of food stamps.
“Like many citizens, I am appalled by the outrageous theft and fraud and believe there should be serious consequences for what occurred,” he said in a statement.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- FIELDS: Oscars' fantasy on the Left Coast
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again