In re: DCIS No. Redacted Redacted
Rachel McIntosh, Audit and Recovery Management Services ("ARMS")
Detrich Simmons, Sr. Social Worker/Case Manager, Division of Social Services ("DSS")
Nicole Shuhart, Social Worker Supervisor, Division of Social Services
Pursuant to the federal rule at 7 CFR 273.16, an individual may be disqualified from participation in the Food Stamp Program after a finding as a result of an administrative hearing that the person intentionally violated a Food Stamp Program rule. The violation, and intent to commit the violation, must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.
DSS proposes to disqualify Redacted, a resident of the State of Delaware, from participation in the Food Stamp Program for allegedly filing two (2) false and forged employment verification documents.
I find that the State does not possess evidence as required under the federal rule at 7 CFR 273.16(e)(3) that the Respondent received advance notice of this hearing within the time period set for receipt. (Notice of the hearing was sent by certified mail and was returned as "unclaimed.") The Respondent is not present for the hearing. Jurisdiction for this hearing decision is under the federal rule at 7 CFR 273.16. A hearing decision may be reached based on information provided by a Food Stamp Program office if the household member proposed for disqualification is unable to be located or fails, without good cause, to appear for the hearing. 7 CFR 273.16(e)(4).
Based on the testimony and evidence presented at this hearing I find that DSS and ARMS has evidence that two (2) Verification of Employment ("VOE") forms (Form 170) (Exhibits 4 & 5) were submitted by the Respondent for purposes of obtaining eligibility for the Food Stamp Program, but that neither of these two documents were actually signed by the listed employer.
DSS social worker Detrich Simmons testified that the Respondent was generally hostile towards her and other social workers and that led to conversations between them about what each of them had been told by the Respondent. Upon receiving the VOE forms from the Respondent, Ms. Detrich testified that they were not consistent with what the Respondent had told her, leading her to investigate on her own to determine the validity of the documents. After contacting the two employers listed on the form, she sent copies of each form to them to make corrections and to verify other information. Based on the information she received back from the employers, she completed a referral form to the ARMS unit for further investigation.
ARMS also testified that through investigation, by way of interview with Pamela Edwards, a Senior Operations Specialist at Integrity Staffing, the Respondent's periodic employer from October 14, 2002 through March 19, 2004, the VOE was not completed by anyone at Integrity Staffing, and definitely not by the alleged signatory, Jennifer Dolan. (Exhibit 7) In addition, ARMS has also testified that through investigation, by way of interview with Pat McKinster, a Collection Manager at Account Recovery, the Respondent's employer from November 22, 2003 through December 28, 2003, the VOE was not received or completed by anyone at Account Recovery, and was not signed by her, even though the document bears her name. (Exhibit 8)
ARMS also submitted a copy of an internal e-mail sent between Todney Smallwood of ARMS and Ginny Kempski of DSS. (Exhibit 2) This document is dated October 7, 2004, and outlines the investigation performed by Mr. Smallwood with respect to the allegedly forged documents.
DSS contends that the forged documents along with the written statements of the two (2) employers, supports the proposed action to disqualify Ms. Land from participating in the Food Stamp Program.
The standard of evidence used to determine if an intentional program violation was committed is that of "clear and convincing" evidence. In Slomowitz v. Walker, 429 So. 2d 797, 800 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that:
"Clear and convincing evidence requires that the evidence must be found to be credible; the facts to which the witnesses testify must be precise and explicit and the witnesses must be lacking in confusion as to the facts in issue. The evidence must be of such weight that it produces in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction, without hesitancy, as to the truth of the allegation sought to be established."
The testimony and evidence in this action have produced a firm belief in my mind, without hesitancy, of the truth of the allegations offered by DSS and ARMS. The evidence provided by DSS/ARMS clearly indicates that the documents provided by the Respondent for purposes of seeking eligibility for the Food Stamp Program did not come from the employer sources indicated by the Respondent. In fact, both employers, through their witness statements, indicated that the signatures on the Verification of Employment forms were forgeries.
The documentary evidence submitted and testimony provided by DSS and ARMS rises to the level of clear and convincing evidence to support their request for disqualification from the Food Stamp Program.
Based on the testimony and evidence I am able to find clear and convincing evidence that supports a finding that the Respondent intentionally violated a program rule. The proposal to disqualify the Respondent from participation in the Food Stamp Program is, therefore, granted.
Date: February 12, 2005
STEVEN A. GREENSPAN
THE FOREGOING IS THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES
Rachel McIntosh, ARMS
Detrich Simmons, DSS
Nicole Shuhart, DSS
SUMMARY OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE