Butler County’s skyrocketing food assistance dollars may be attributed in part to fraud, abuse and misuse has resulted in the arrest of hundreds and a taxpayer savings of $5.2 million since July 2012.
About $6.6 million is distributed monthly in Butler County via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. In the past 18 months, $5.25 million has been saved by catching intentional program violators, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
The operation, manned by two sheriff’s detectives with help of state and federal agencies including the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, netted 116 violators between July 2012 and June 2013 and 100 from July to December 2013.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Sgt. Jason Rosser, a sheriff’s detective assigned to the operation. hile benefits fraud is not a new crime, the lingering dismal economy and drug abuse, particularly heroin, has turned it into an epidemic, according to Sheriff Richard K. Jones. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said that food stamp fraud totals $750 million each year.
Among the 216 arrests was a woman living in a $300,000 home in Fairfield Twp.’s Walden Ponds subdivision. The woman was using her son’s SNAP card for groceries while he was in jail. SNAP benefits can only be used to buy foods to eat, such as:
Breads and cereal ruits and vegetables meats, fish and poultry dairy products, Seeds and plants to produce food
SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy: Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco Any nonfood items, such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, diapers, and household supplies Vitamins and medicines. The Butler County operation also uncovered drug addicts trading their SNAP cards for heroin. “They didn’t want to eat, they wanted caps of heroin,” Rosser said. Some also offered to sell their benefits for 50 cents on the dollar, and Rosser said it happens on street corners.
Of the 216 violators, 124 have been given administrative waivers, which means they have been booted from the benefits systems for a year. Others have been sentenced or are facing a fifth-degree felony charge. Fifty-one have received a lifetime ban from the benefits program as a result of their conviction.
Sources—dayton Ohio daily news,