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Dec 06, 2012
Franklin, St. Tammany Residents Plead Guilty to Food Assistance Fraud

BATON ROUGE - An investigation by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services' (DCFS) Fraud and Recovery Unit has led to two women pleading guilty to receiving nearly $30,000 in ineligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Katrina Howard of Winnsboro illegally obtained SNAP benefits from April 2008 to June 2012 in the amount of $27,435 after failing to report her husband as a household member. Howard pled guilty and was sentenced by the 5th Judicial Court to five years hard labor, which was suspended. She was placed on five years of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine and court costs, and make restitution in the amount of $27,435.00 to DCFS.

Jennifer Welch of Covington pled guilty to charges of illegally obtaining SNAP benefits in the amount of $2,458. Welch received these benefits from April 2011 to September 2011 after concealing her earned income. The 22nd Judicial District Court imposed a suspended sentence of parish jail time and ordered her to serve two years probation, pay a $100 fine and all court costs, have random drug screenings paid for by the defendant, and make restitution in the amount of $2,458.00 to DCFS.

"DCFS uses all the tools and technology at our disposal to track those who commit fraud in our public assistance programs," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "Fraudulent activity is not tolerated in SNAP or any other program intended to provide assistance to children and families who are in need. Anyone found cheating the system will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

The fraud was discovered by local DCFS offices reviewing the cases.

DCFS seeks to recover ineligible benefits from individuals who receive them due to fraud or error by intercepting federal income tax refunds, withholding eligible benefits through recoupment or through administrative or court ordered repayment.

Individuals are encouraged to report cases of suspected fraud in SNAP, Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program, the Child Care Assistance Program or the Kinship Care Program by calling the DCFS toll-free hot line at 1-888-LAHELP-U and selecting option 7 from the main menu or by visiting www.dcfs.la.gov/reportfraud.

SNAP is administered in Louisiana by DCFS and overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Read more about recipients' rights.

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