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Indiana welfare workers indicted for stealing $191K

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Two former Indiana welfare workers and a current employee stole nearly $200,000 in food stamps and other benefits by creating bogus electronic benefit cards to withdraw money at bank machines, buy retail goods and sell to others, federal prosecutors alleged Tuesday.

A federal grand jury indicted Timberly Snyder, Robert Edwards and Adina Lopez on charges of theft. During an initial court appearance Tuesday, all pleaded not guilty and were released their own recognizance, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said.

Snyder coordinated the electronic benefits program in the central office of the Family and Social Services Administration until leaving her job about a year ago, about the same time that Edwards left his job as a welfare case worker in Indianapolis, FSSA General Counsel Mike Carter said. Lopez was still employed by FSSA on Tuesday.

A message left for the public defender who represented the three during Tuesday's court appearance wasn't immediately returned. Listed phone numbers for Snyder and Lopez in the Indianapolis area were disconnected, while it was unclear whether the Robert Edwards cited in the indictment had a listed number.

The indictment said the three created 126 benefit cards in the names of existing welfare clients and stole a total of $191,103 from two federal programs, food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Edwards created 62 cards and stole $125,816, over 15 months and Snyder created 60 cards and stole $59,900 over five months, both periods ending on March 24, 2010, according to the indictment. Lopez created four cards worth $5,386 over 13 days ending April 5, 2010, the indictment said.

The three knew each other and used computer systems and databases available to them as FSSA employees to identify existing food stamp and TANF recipients whose names and accounts could be used to generate new cards, the indictment alleges.

"They clearly were in cahoots" said Hogsett, who joined Carter at a news conference after the court hearing in Indianapolis. Carter said there was no indication anyone else was involved.

None of the 126 welfare clients whose names were used knew of the scheme, Hogsett said, and they were never wrongfully denied any of the benefits that were stolen.

The scheme unfolded after FSSA rolled out its modernized welfare intake system to much of the state, but Marion County was not included in the rollout. Gov. Mitch Daniels has said modernizing the welfare system was needed to, among other things, update a system he said was riddled with waste and fraud.

On Tuesday, Daniels said the state found out about theft scheme and turned it over to federal prosecutors, whom he thanked for prompt action.

"We have a zero tolerance policy for any ethical breeches, let alone wrongdoing," Daniels said.

Hogsett and Carter said they could reveal little about how the scheme was uncovered, but Carter said FSSA's internal controls were instrumental.

"I don't think we're ever surprised by things that can happen of this nature, but that's why we have these systems in place," Carter said.

If convicted, Snyder, Edwards and Lopez face maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and $250,000 fines. Hogsett said the government also was seeking restitution of the stolen benefits.

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  • Welfare Fraud
    Turn the people in that are cheating the government, and continue to get updates. Then, all the local newspaper and get a reporter to do a story on either the people cheating or why the state won't investigate..The more publicity, the more action.
  • worthless system
    That would be a great idea but there aren't very many jobs out here. The so called people in office aren't bringing jobs to the inner city they send them to places that take at least an hour or more to get too.
  • SAD FOR US ALL
    There are people that work really hard to make ends meet, and there are some that are disabled and live off a fixed income that can't any help. Yes me and my husband work full-time jobs but by the time they take out for TAXES, BENEFITS, 401K and whatever else we don't have enough money to even live pay check to pay check. So I apply for food stamps and low and behold we gross too much money to get anything, even though we have 3 small children, pay for child care for all three plus pay all the extra utility bills and still nothing. One case worker told me if I really wanted the help either take a lower paying job or quit and then we can get the help that we need. If people would stop robbing from the poor and give to the needy I think we might be in a better position. But no the same people that turn people away that are struggling are the same ones that steal from the company. WHAT A SHAME!
  • Worthless system
    How about this formula, get rid of all illegals.get rid of the worthless welfare system, and make these people get JJOOOBBBSSSSSS!!!
    • worthless system
      How about this formula. Get rid of all illegals, get rid of worthless welfare system, and make these people get JJJJOOOOBBBBSSSSS!!!!
    • me too
      i know just what you're going through. I lost my job two years ago and have been looking ever since. I have applied for everything and have been turned down for everything. you have have to be totally out to get help. i dont want to be dependent on the state or the government for anything.
    • AMEN
      AMEN - I am in the same boat, but I can't even get assistance because I am too young and have no kids. But I had cancer, had a hysterectomy at 20 so I can't have kids. Bad wreck, near death experience a year and a half ago and stuck with nothing. I am only 28.
    • FRAUD
      They need to investigate Michigan City Indiana. Both parents live in same house they get food stamps,social security,Tanf ,medicaid,housing, and he has a full time job. Talk about crooks.
      • whatever
        lol you people trust some real winners...
      • Now I understand
        Now I understand why, with my wife 100% disabled and I partially disabled, with us living on a small VA disability pension, the Welfare department says that I earn TOO MUCH MONEY to get food stamps!!
        Obviously they can't be botherred giving benefits to those who really NEED them! Otherwise there would be nothing left for the Welfare Employees to STEAL!!!
        I'm glad we cleared that up!!!

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        1. Can your dog sign a marriage license or personally state that he wishes to join you in a legal union? If not then no, you cannot marry him. When you teach him to read, write, and speak a discernible language, then maybe you'll have a reasonable argument. Thanks for playing!

        2. Look no further than Mike Rowe, the former host of dirty jobs, who was also a classically trained singer.

        3. Current law states income taxes are paid to the county of residence not county of income source. The most likely scenario would be some alteration of the income tax distribution formula so money earned in Marion co. would go to Marion Co by residents of other counties would partially be distributed to Marion co. as opposed to now where the entirety is held by the resident's county.

        4. This is more same-old, same-old from a new generation of non-progressive 'progressives and fear mongers. One only needs to look at the economic havoc being experienced in California to understand the effect of drought on economies and people's lives. The same mindset in California turned a blind eye to the growth of population and water needs in California, defeating proposal after proposal to build reservoirs, improve water storage and delivery infrastructure...and the price now being paid for putting the demands of a raucous minority ahead of the needs of many. Some people never, never learn..

        5. I wonder if I can marry him too? Considering we are both males, wouldn't that be a same sex marriage as well? If they don't honor it, I'll scream discrimination just like all these people have....

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