Schuette, Corrigan Announce Food Stamp Fraud Charges Against Ex-DHS Employee Contact:
John Sellek or Joy Yearout 517-373-8060
February 24, 2011
Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D.
Corrigan today announced that the Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit has
charged a former DHS employee with one felony count of food stamp fraud. The
charge resulted from a DHS Office of Inspector General investigation that
revealed an employee whose job was to determine applicants' eligibility for food
assistance continued to accept food stamp benefits she was approved for prior to
working at DHS despite being ineligible due to her newly found state employment.
"This was a theft from Michigan families who are literally
struggling to put food on the table," said Schuette. "The message should be loud
We will root out fraud and corruption anywhere we find it. If you
violate the public trust, the consequences will be severe."
applaud Director Corrigan for maintaining these strong internal controls that
identify bad actors so they can be brought to justice," continued Schuette.
"We are committed to improving the integrity of Michigan's public
assistance programs to ensure that funds are used only for eligible families and
individuals," Corrigan said. "That's why the DHS Office of Inspector General
aggressively investigates all complaints of fraud and abuse in the welfare
Ternisa Mallette, 30, of Livonia, applied for Food Assistance
Program (FAP) benefits on June 1, 2009 and was approved due to her unemployment
at the time. On March 8, 2010, Mallette was hired as a full-time eligibility
specialist at DHS. Eligibility specialists review applications for assistance
and determine whether they meet state and federal guidelines to receive aid.
Mallette completed training on April 30, 2010 and was assigned to the DHS Walled
Lake District Office. Once Mallette began working full-time, her new household
income no longer qualified her for food assistance.
However, it is alleged that Mallette's Bridge card was used to
make purchases totaling more than $1,740 at various locations even after she was
working full-time. The Bridge card works like a debit card and is used to access
benefits, including food assistance. DHS internal controls revealed that
Mallette was receiving benefits to which she was no longer entitled, and on
Sept. 24, 2010, the benefits were terminated. Mallette is no longer a DHS
employee as of Nov. 29, 2010.
An arrest warrant for Mallette on the felony charge of food stamp
fraud was filed today with the 16th District Court in Livonia. Mallette
faces a maximum possible penalty of 10 years in prison.
On Jan. 4, 2011, Attorney General Schuette created a new Public
Integrity Unit in the Attorney General's office to ratchet up the fight against
corruption in state and local government, protect tax dollars and restore the
public's trust in government.
Integrity Unit heightens the focus on public corruption cases by the Office of
Attorney General, a priority Schuette identified upon taking office last month.