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Linda Ann Thomas, a former 18 year state employee, was found to have used her job with the Terrebonne Parish Office of Family Support (OFS) to obtain multiple Disaster Food Stamp Program benefits after Hurricane Katrina for herself and her family members for which they were not eligible. This included a daughter who lived in Texas.
"DSS is committed to combating fraud and abuse. In fact, this was identified in an internal audit as a key step for DSS to provide more efficient services and to increase cost-savings in our programs," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "Fraudulent activity will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. While fraud and abuse is unacceptable when perpetrated by any individual, it is especially troubling that the culprit in this case was one of our own."
Thomas, who represented herself during the trial, was sentenced in the 32nd Judicial District Court to six months Department of Corrections which will be suspended upon completion of 31 days in the parish jail. She was also sentenced to one year of supervised probation; ordered to pay a $500 fine; complete 40 hours of community service; attend a course on effective decision making; and to pay restitution to the Department of Children & Family Services - OFS. Thomas was detained by the Terrebonne Sheriff's office immediately following sentencing.
David Sigue, Director of the OFS Quality Assurance Division, applauded the work of his staff and that of Assistant District Attorney Denis Elfert, who prosecuted the case for District Attorney Joseph Waitz's office.
Individuals are encouraged to report cases of suspected fraud in the Food Stamp Program, Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program, the Child Care Assistance Program, or the Kinship Care Program by calling the DSS toll-free hot line at 1-800-256-3150 or by visiting the website at: www.dss.state.la.us/reportfraud.