Eight Jones County women arrested for food stamp fraud - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Eight Jones County women arrested for food stamp fraud

Photos Courtesy of Jones County Sheriff's Office Photos Courtesy of Jones County Sheriff's Office
JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Investigators with the Mississippi Department of Human Services with assistant from the Jones County Sheriff's Office arrested eight individuals for alleged Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud.

Amanda Black, Kimberly Hogan, Jalesia Haynes, Melissa Mapp, Cindy Hernandez, Kisha Howard, Angela Pitts and Casey Holliman allegedly withheld income or household information that would deem them ineligible to receive the government benefits.

Ken Palmer with MDHS said the investigation of these eight women found $74,926 worth of fraud. The investigation took place over the past year, although it looked at benefits received over several years.

A judge will set bond for the eight individuals who face a felony charge. If found guilty, they will have to pay back the amount of money abused in these cases.

MDHS had 55 cases of food stamp fraud in Fiscal Year 2013, totaling approximately $400,000, according to Palmer.

"This is a 100 percent taxpayer funded program, and we're trying to be good stewards to the taxpayers dollars," he said.

Palmer said the application process for SNAP is based on an "honor system," trusting the applicants truthfully submit their income and number of dependents. When asked if the system is flawed based on the amount of fraudulent use, he said he does not see the process being changed "at this time."

Palmer said there are separate SNAP fraud investigations pending in Jones County.

Copyright 2014 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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