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Columbus women charged with defrauding food stamp program


Special to The Dispatch



Two Columbus women were among four Mississippi residents charged with welfare fraud, the state Department of Human Services said. 


Close to $24,000 in fines and restitution were levied against those trying to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program, the DHS said. 


Shanda L. Bates of Columbus was indicted by the Lowndes County Grand Jury for welfare fraud. Bates entered a guilty plea in Lowndes County Circuit Court where she was ordered to pay $7,803 in fines and restitution. She was sentenced to serve three years suspended with three years of probation and was permanently disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits because this was her third program violation. 


Sheila Harris, also of Columbus, entered a guilty plea in Lowndes County Justice Court where she was ordered to pay $1,545 in fines, assessments and restitution. Harris was also disqualified from the program permanently as this was her third program violation. 


Bertha H. Moore of Winona was charged with welfare fraud and ordered to pay $2,965 in fines, assessments and restitution. She was disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits for a 24-month period because this was her second program violation. 


Churie Robinson of Canton was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury for welfare fraud. Robinson entered a guilty plea and was ordered to pay court costs, fees, assessments and restitution totaling over $11,635. She will serve five years supervised probation with MDOC to be non-adjudicated if the probation terms are met. Robinson was disqualified from receiving benefits for a 12-month period because it was her first program violation. 


SNAP disqualification periods are determined by state and federal mandates and/or can be ordered by the court. SNAP fraud is normally the result of the client withholding income or household information that would deem them ineligible to receive welfare benefits. 


The MDHS, Office of Fraud Investigations is charged with detection, investigation and verification of alleged fraud in federal public assistance programs administered by MDHS. During State Fiscal Year 2010, the office handled 1,829 suspected program violations and recovered $1,972,292.  


Ken Palmer, director for the Office of Fraud Investigations said, "MDHS wants the public to be aware that it is a criminal offense to give false information in order to receive any type of federal or state benefits. Anyone found in violation of these federal and state laws can serve up to three years in the state penitentiary, face fines up to $10,000 and be subject to suspension from receiving additional benefits."




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Reader Comments

Article Comment dn112097 commented at 3/30/2011 3:05:00 PM:

while it may be a crime it still is not treated the same as child support .the state will go to the ends of the earth to enforce that men pay ,women work then go to their bosses to have their time trimmed so they can keep recieveing chips or some other type of state benefit or will just quit working altogether in either case the screws are tightened on the male for more support or new penalties brought forth .women want to be treated the same ,make the same money ,serve in combat then lets start reflecting this in these staid laws


Article Comment regularolegal commented at 3/31/2011 11:03:00 AM:

There should be a lot more arrests like this but we can thank the Mississippi House of Representatives and the Black Caucus for cutting the number of investigators employed by this agency. Budget cuts are alright, but when an agency constantly turns their head to help their own, there should be a lot more than just the person committing the fraud locked up. When you drive by the office and see all the Cadillac and SUV buses across the street in the parking lot you know instantly that FRAUD is being committed all day long. But, heads are turned and those expensive vehicles can't be mentioned when the applicant is writing down all the lies about their income.

Not all people who apply are trying to defraud the State of Mississippi. Some really need the assistance, but from what I have seen in the line at the grocery store, there is a lot of lying going on at the Department of Human Services in Lowndes County.


Article Comment happy commented at 3/31/2011 2:53:00 PM:

hello, to my understanding all they do is talk about people and drink cofee and tea, they don't do their work i go up there have to stay most of the time, they want to know your busss but give little stamp


Article Comment happy commented at 3/31/2011 2:56:00 PM:

and be on the phone, mr jone don't do any work but try to get women


Article Comment happy commented at 3/31/2011 2:58:00 PM:

and berry bald head worry about the wrong thing need to worry about her child killing a people


Article Comment irvingtonguy commented at 3/31/2011 2:58:00 PM:

You mean you get 2 chances to defraud the government of food stamps? Them and immediate family should be permanently denied any type of financial assistance from the stamps, welfare, WIC, Section 8, assistance with utilities, etc. It is ridiculous they can keep doing this!


Article Comment happy commented at 3/31/2011 6:22:00 PM:

I'm mad as hell becuse they didn't have to but those name in the paper, because if that was their child they will be upset, if any one want to know I'm a close friend of the name they why i'm going off,Don't let talk about WIC Section 8 and child support, the the wic center they want to know are you use the items, if not it free ot not comming out your house, section its a dam shame you have to wait three years to get, if you sleep with the head man you will get one 1st, and a geta job in the office, they know who they are, and the child support worker, Mrs. Petty walk around like she God giveto the earth like she have every thing, she need to look at her husband because he have the AIDS because my sister gave it to him, and he still taking care his child why she lock up now so she need to sit down. and the tanf work need to know how to ask the phone, and carolyn at like she holy and tho she need get her mouth fix, yes so ridicuous to ask all the qustion and don't get any stamps and wic one questions might be when the next you had sex, i will tell them with their husband or boyfriend or girlfriend.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 3/31/2011 11:48:00 PM:

Either I'm having a stroke or I'm the only one here speaking English.


Article Comment plainjoe commented at 4/1/2011 1:43:00 PM:

No where else but Lowndes County in Mississippi could this be happening. I'm loving the comments from their clients. Obviously there is more than meets the eye going on at the Dept of Human Services in Lowndes County.


Article Comment ayadria commented at 4/2/2011 10:28:00 AM:

Since "Happy Comments" felt the need to respond to this article because she is a relative of the accused, or should I say the guilty parties- Who pleaded guilty to the crime of defrauding the government and state out of thousands of dollars of "tax payer monies", I feel that I MUST respond being the family and friend of all the mentioned individuals that she so elegantly talked about in her comments. I am the daughter of Annie Barry (not Berry), and I am also the friend of all the other employees that you felt the need to drag through the mud, because one of your relatives committed a crime. Talking about other people's families shows the character of who you are as a person. But let's get some of your facts straight: 1. No one in my family has ever committed murder or killed anyone, but if you are referring to the accident that my brother had, get ALL the facts straight before you comment. 2. Ms. Petty is a very beautiful person inside and out, the fact that you want to brag about your sister giving her husband AIDS that is sad, no one should be proud of trying to destroy another person, if it is true or not that is between her and her husband not the streets of Columbus (and by the way knowingly giving someone AIDS is a crime and you can go to prison for that for years). As for him taking care of his child, "bravo" a black man taking care of his business and not relying on the public welfare system to do it for him. 3. The TANF workers that answer the phones, I am very proud of those young ladies, they decided that they wanted something more for themselves and their families- So my hat goes off to them. 4. And as far as Mr. Jones, he is a people person and he is a very caring individual that has no problem letting people know that they are beautiful, if you feel that that is a come on, wow, I guess you have never been complimented. I don't know the Section 8 gentlemen that you talk about, but I do know the staff there and they have and will always be a caring bunch of individuals. Now to the fact that you spend all your time in the Welfare office, use WIC and have dealing with the Section 8 tells me a few things about you- you are in the system, and they give you what you are entitled to receive nothing more or nothing less, and since you chose to be in the system, you have to put up with all the questions they ask, it's the law, they could don't care one way or the other, they are doing their jobs. Now instead of talking about the very people that assist you and have assisted your family members for generations probably, why not use this lesson and stop the cycle of dependence on the very system that you seem to "hate". I have watched these people for over twenty years assist and help people like your "guilty" family members and yourself live and take care of your families, with no complaints because that is who they are, caring individuals with big hearts. One more bit of information, if you are found guilty on any charges, it is the law that that information is posted in the local newspaper, your family is not the first nor will they be the last. The employees do have the right to drink coffee and tea, they are "employees" And by law they are entitled to breaks. Just a bit of advice, next time please try spell check and how about posting your real name if you feel so strongly about your views, anonymous is another word for coward. But in the end we all have our own freedom of speech, you have yours and I have mine, but when you talk about my family and friends, it's just as personal. - V/r Ayandria Windham Barry


Article Comment outragedndasip commented at 4/5/2011 7:55:00 AM:

It is quite alarming, that in Columbus Mississippi people have made it their job to not work. I'm quite sure that some who have defrauded are working class citizens but needed to get on the boat of receiving free assistance because they can not qualify. It is over 75% of residents in Columbus receiving free benefits! it amazes me how much the non working people receive versus the working class people, it's actually sad! The non working people are receiving far more benefits that can meet the eye. Let's see, free food, free housing, free school supplies, free, free, free! Free bunch of bull***! They walk around bragging because they have never got caught, yes you mentioned four names but i can mention 1,000s that should be here! Get real people, this fraud didn't happen just with these four....more research needs to be done! Research instead of sitting at your desk doing nothing.....Go after those who are really leaches and not those who are just trying to make a $! out of 15cents! yes, i'm mad, mad because i make minimum wage and don't qualify to receive any kind of benefits! This is just outrageous to me! Yes i'm mad because people who make more than me and change their income on paper, just to get the benefits! They have cars out the ying yang and the flyest clothes and shoes that you know can't be gotten on a low income assistance salary..yes i said salary because they stay on the system so long that it's the full time job! Here I am struggling to make sure my kids have food, clothes, and shelter so that way I don't get turned into DSS for child neglect, but what you neglected to realize is that the overlooking of the 1,000s that are defrauding, is far worst than my child not having on the latest jordans or TOMS. Check the internet, especially Facebook, these people don't mind putting their business out in the street! The question is, are you going to get your lazy behind up and do something about it!

Oh I'll answer it for you......NO! And as Mya on Girlfriends would say, oh Hell No!


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