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08.01.12 - Investigations by the Fraud and Recovery Unit at the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) have led to the sentencing of an East Feliciana couple and four women from Livingston Parish for obtaining nearly $100,000 in ineligible food and child care assistance benefits.
"We absolutely will not tolerate fraud and abuse," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "We will continue to use all the tools and resources available to find those who obtain benefits illegally and prosecute to the fullest extent."
James Myles and Luchan Myles, both of Clinton, pled no contest to charges of illegally obtaining $35,823 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) benefits. Ms. Myles failed to report her husband and father of her children as a household member, and Mr. Myles provided false verification to DCFS in an effort to assist his wife in obtaining ineligible SNAP and CCAP benefits. The two were sentenced in 20th Judicial District Court to serve four years with the Department of Corrections, which was suspended, placed on four years of supervised probation and ordered to make full restitution to DCFS.
Penny Todd of Denham Springs pled guilty for failing to report her husband as a household member in order to receive $14,434 in SNAP benefits. She was sentenced in the 21st Judicial District Court to two years of supervised probation, ordered to pay fines, fees, court costs and to make full restitution to DCFS.
Terica Jones of Walker was sentenced in 21st Judicial District Court to five years of supervised probation after pleading guilty for receiving $6,889 in ineligible SNAP benefits by failing to report her husband as a household member. She was ordered to pay fines, fees, court costs and to make full restitution to DCFS.
Lolana Graves of Walker pled guilty for illegally obtaining $26,248 in SNAP benefits by failing to report her husband as a household member. The 21st Judicial District Court sentenced her to serve five years with the Department of Corrections, which was suspended, placed her on five years of supervised probation and ordered her to make full restitution to DCFS.
Jennifer Maddox of Livingston was sentenced to five years supervised probation in the 21st Judicial District Court after pleading guilty for failing to report that her husband was living in her home, which allowed her to illegally receive $16,393 in SNAP benefits from April 2006 to March 2009. The court ordered that she pay fines, fees, court costs and make full restitution to DCFS.
If any of these individuals fail to pay restitution, the courts have the right to revoke their supervised probation and order them to serve actual jail time.
According to Sonnier, DCFS uses a number of tools to identify potential fraud of benefits, including cross matching information with federal and other state agencies, as well as the use of its award-winning Geographic Information System technology.
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.
In the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2012, DCFS, with the cooperation of local, state and federal officials, has recovered more than $3.7 million from individuals who have committed fraud and abuse in federal assistance programs. All are federal monies that are passed through the state for distribution.
Sonnier encourages anyone who suspects fraud in SNAP, CCAP, the Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program or the Kinship Care Subsidy Program to report it by calling DCFS toll-free 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.