Five jailed in MS food stamp fraud crackdown
By Dwayne Bremer
Jan 28, 2014, 13:10
Five people, including one from Lakeshore and another from Pass Christian, were arrested Friday when officials from the Mississippi Department of Human Services conducted a sweep of alleged food stamp fraud violators on the Gulf Coast.
In the past year, MDHS has been cracking down on abuses of the SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
In the past few months, 34 SNAP recipients have been arrested for violating the program for a total of more than $345,000, according to a MDHS press release.
"SNAP is designed to help low-income people put food on the table," MDHS Director Kenneth Palmer said Friday. "SNAP fraud hurts everyone. Local stores where purchases would have been made suffer a loss of revenue, and of course, the family suffers because they are disqualified from the program."
Those arrested Friday included Debra Harvey of Gulfport, Ocavia Thomas of Gautier, Le Tran of Moss Point, Robin Threlkel of Pass Christian, and Temprest Waltman of Lakeshore.
One of the suspects was arrested at Hollywood Casino, authorities said Saturday.
According to the press release, MDHS will seek restitution for the amount of money allegedly obtained through the program.
Each suspect will also have to appear in criminal court and jail time is possible, officials said.
Palmer said anyone who may have knowledge of someone misusing the SNAP program can call MDHS's fraud hotline at 1-800-299-6905.