September 22, 2014

Fighting Food Share fraud

An Assembly panel is considering a bill that aims to crackdown on the trafficking of Food Share benefits. State Representative Samantha Kerkman said her bill would put Wisconsin in-line with new federal guidelines of enforcement of fraud in food stamp benefits.

In testimony to the State Affairs Committee Tuesday, Kerkman referenced the case of John Sedrick Williams. As an authorized vendor, the Fox Point man was convicted in federal court of bilking the system of nearly $800,000 by pretending to sell steaks to homeless people, but instead he pocketed the government money.

The Kenosha County Republican said although U.S. Attorneys are willing to prosecute such cases, she questions whether they would pursue possible fraud involving smaller dollar amounts. So, she says, the legislation would provide “tools” for district attorneys to take on the smaller cases.

The bill is sponsored in the state Senate by Alberta Darling. Nick Kitzman from Darling’s office said, as lawmakers are “stewards of the tax payers money”, it’s important that the benefits be used appropriately.

An official with the Department of Health Services spoke about how the agency handles cases of suspected fraud. No one testified against the measure.