Food stamp scheme investigated | Milwaukee County sheriff’s officials tracking state workers, use of bogus cards
Bruce Vielmetti | The Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee County sheriff’s officials are investigating at least a half-dozen current or former state employees suspected of involvement with an ongoing food stamp and disaster relief fraud scheme, court records show.
Search warrants have turned up more than 500 names and Social Security numbers, plus fraudulently obtained Department of Health Services documents.
A single “Quest card” – the electronic benefits transfer card that replaced paper food stamps – wrongly issued in the name of an Illinois man has cost taxpayers more than $11,500, according to records, and one person told investigators she routinely bought the cards for 50 cents on the dollar from others who needed the cash to pay their utility bills.
The Illinois man told investigators an old friend who worked for the Department of Health Services told him to apply for Milwaukee-area disaster relief in 2008 since “FEMA was giving out free money” because of recent floods. He declined, but a relief payment of $975 went out in his name soon after, to an address in Milwaukee.
Those aspects and an outline of the fraud investigation are revealed in a detective’s affidavit that supported a search warrant request. On Thursday, Milwaukee County sheriff’s office detectives seized names with personally identifiable information, along with DHS documents and fraudulent food stamp cards, from a home and car in the 6900 block of N. 40th St. belonging to Teri L. Sloans, identified in court documents as a recently fired DHS employee.
An official with DHS alerted sheriff’s investigators earlier in February that Sloans, 50, had created a fraudulent Quest card for an Illinois resident. According to records, Sloans had been hired in 1988 by Milwaukee County as an economic support specialist with the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, part of the collection of aid programs to the poor taken over by the state Department of Health Services in 2009. That year, she was paid $39,559, according to Milwaukee County controller’s office records.