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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: June 14, 2016

DHSS Announces Benefits Fraud Investigation Resulted in Employee Terminations and Referral for Criminal Charges

The Delaware Attorney General's Office announced today the arrests and charges against four former Department of Health and Social Services employees. Those arrests are in addition to one former employee who was indicted and arrested previously and still faces charges in Kent County, and two former employees who were convicted and sentenced in Kent County.

The Department's internal investigation began in December 2014 and was led by the DHSS Audit and Recovery Management Services (ARMS) unit, with the cooperation and assistance of the Division of Social Services (DSS). The ARMS unit found that seven employees created more than 100 fictitious SNAP cases to procure electronic benefit cards that could be used to purchase food. The total value of the benefit cards is estimated at more than $950,000.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees and funds all SNAP benefits in Delaware and nationwide, was notified in January 2015 about the investigation and has provided assistance and guidance throughout the process. DHSS worked closely with both federal and state prosecutors and investigators as to the findings of the internal investigation.

The first case of suspected fraud was discovered in December 2014 by a supervisor within the Division of Social Services who could not find the required documentation to support a benefits case during her case reviews. DHSS's Audit and Recovery Management Services unit and the Division of Social Services began the internal investigation immediately and worked throughout with the USDA.

"I find it especially cruel and disheartening that anyone would steal from a supplemental food benefit for personal gain and greed," DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf said. "As a result of efforts by the Division of Social Services, the Audit and Recovery Management Services unit, along with the state Department of Justice and federal investigators, I am pleased that today we are one step closer to having justice done for the federal taxpayers.

"We have continued to be in close contact with our federal partners and will keep working with them to strengthen the internal controls that will make it more difficult for these crimes to occur, while ensuring that red flags are raised as immediately as possible when they do."

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.