State workers accused of stealing $950,000 in food assistance

Kamilah Laws

Kamilah Laws

Seven state employees are accused of defrauding the federal food assistance program. They allegedly stole more than $950,000 in benefit cards.

The seven workers were employed at the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and were responsible for issuing Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, formerly referred to as food stamps. DHSS officials say the group created more than 100 fictitious SNAP cases to get the EBT cards that could be used to buy food. The total value of the EBT cards topped $950,000. 

“I find it especially cruel and disheartening that anyone would steal from a supplemental food benefit for personal gain,” said DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf. “We will keep working with [the federal government] to strengthen the internal controls that will make it more difficult for these crimes to occur.” 

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said the suspects used the EBT cards personally or sold them at a discount. “This case is part of an intensified focus our office is trying to bring to fraud being committed against the state’s public benefit programs,” Denn said. “These arrests come as the result of an in-depth investigation, supported by many agencies.”

The suspects include 54-year-old Detrich Simmons-Heath of Chestertown, Maryland and 39-year-old Kamilah Laws of Wilmington who were arrested last week. 61-year-old Jo Ellen Edwards of Felton and 29-year-old Shirlene Davis of Newark were indicted last week, but are still at large. 43-year-old Nicole Stevens of Dover was arrested on theft charges related to the fraud ring in November. 49-year-old Allison Rivera of Dover and 45-year-old Angelette Brown of Camden, Delaware were convicted this April after pleading guilty to theft charges.

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