Chelsea IrizarryJun 18, 2018, 7:56 pmJun 19, 2018, 2:33 pm

12 allegedly stole food stamps from mentally disabled

Officials say employees at group home 'took advantage' of clients, taking over $7K in SNAP electronic benefit cards

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HAUPPAUGE — Employees and several others at a Long Island group home for the mentally disabled allegedly stole residents’ food stamps to use for their own personal benefits.

"It's not the loss amount in this fraud scheme that makes it noteworthy, it's the fact that people put into a position of trust took advantage of people with disabilities," Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said. ”It resulted in the theft of $7,930 from people with mental disabilities."

Five of the people arrested were former and current employees of the Federation of Organizations Sunken Meadow Residence, a not-for-profit. New York Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott says those employees had access to their clients' SNAP electronic benefit cards, or EBT cards, to assist in purchasing groceries and other necessities. The others arrested were associates who were given access to the cards by the people who worked at the non-profit.

“They stole welfare benefits as the DA has pointed out and purchased things like Red Bull, spare ribs,” Scott said.

She says the EBT cards belonged to 11 residents at the facility located on the grounds of the Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood. The theft allegedly started in 2015, and there are some instances that occurred this year.

All 12 of the defendants face a slew of charges, including endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree.

FiOS1 News reached out to the not-for-profit, but have not yet heard back.

Scott says one of the defendants was remorseful, telling authorities about the scheme and later recanted. All are set to be arraigned at a later date.

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