Woman “steals” $524 and is fired from her state position; Man “steals” $450 dollars and is ordered to pay it back but gets to keep his state job.
UPDATE: The CTNewsjunkie story on today’s food stamp robber dismissal hearing is up: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/worker_accused_of_fraud_waits_for_decision/.
As of moments ago no ruling has been made but the state employee did get a chance to lay out the facts:
“Lisa Prout, who has worked for 11 years at the hospital and is a single-mother of two, said she would have never lied about her income in order to qualify for $524 in benefits. She claims the Department of Social Services eligibility worker changed her application and failed to count the $1,200 she disclosed on the form as money she had in the bank to pay her expenses.”
“An East Hampton resident Prout said she was without power for nine days and she applied for the food stamps on the very last day in September at which point she received a voucher. When she returned the next day she was given a debt card with $524 on it.
She said she would happily return that money to the state if it meant she got to keep her job.
“I was ushered through the application process like a piece of meat through a processing plant and the DSS worker provided me with guidance in completing the application,” Prout said. “I did nothing wrong; I have been treated unfairly; and my family is suffering.”
“Malloy’s office declined to comment on individual cases”
The accusation is that she “fraudulently obtained benefits through the state of Connecticut’s Department of Social Services administration of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-Snap) in violation of DHMAS work rule #2 and State of Connecticut Personnel Regulation 5-240-1a.”
Considering that this is the first case going to a dismissal hearing, the Malloy Administration is probably using one of their strongest cases. In politics you simply don’t deliver the kind of harsh rhetoric that has been coming from the Governor and his people and then risk losing the case.
For her part, the single-mom with an unblemished record of state service will undoubtedly respond by telling her story which, considering the information that has surfaced to date, will be to point out the fact that the DSS workers who were responsible for processing 20,000 applications (when 2,000 were expected) had limited training and had never dealt with this particular program before.
In this case, faulty information from a DSS worker appears to have led the woman to believe that she and her children met the required standard to receive emergency food aid in the wake of Hurricane Irene when, in fact, she did not.
One can assume that after today’s hearing she will be immediately terminated thereby laying the foundation for the next set of state employee food stamp cases.
Now juxtaposition her story with what occurred last week to the male Human Resources Manager for Connecticut’s Military Department.
In this case, the state employee who knew or should have known the law about using state resources for personal use had used a state-owned gymnasium “for his own (and his family’s) personal use on multiple occasions in 2008 and 2009 without paying the required rental fees.”
The HR manager was ordered to pay $450 in penalties for his violation of Connecticut state law and will remain on the state payroll.
Yesterday the Governor reiterated his commitment to the notion that these state employees are innocent until proven guilty saying “everyone is entitled to due process, but if these allegations prove true, it constitutes a serious violation of the public trust.”
It appears that the definition of a “serious violation of public trust” here in Connecticut would be better described as a loose set of general guidelines rather than an exact rule.