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A city welfare worker faces 6 years jail for stealing $6 million food stamps

August 11, 2011

A sign announcing the acceptance of electronic Benefit Transfer cards is seen at a farmers market in Roseville, Calif.   Currently food stamp recipients have had problems purchasing food at farmer's markets  because many of them do not accept the EBT cards that food stamp recipients use to buy groceries.  A bill currently in the legislature would change that by helping farmers markets overcome bureaucratic hurdles to obtain the equipment needed to read the benefit cards

A city welfare worker faces up to 6-1/2 years in the slammer after pleading guilty today to cooking up a $7 million food-stamp scam.
Vanee Sykes, 44, admitted pulling off the massive fraud with the help of three cronies, two of whom formerly worked with her at the Human Resources Administration.

Sykes, of Brooklyn, said she created phantom poor people using fake names and Social Security numbers, then had their food-stamp cards mailed to addresses where she and her accomplices could collect them.

“We then sold some of the cards and shared the proceeds,” Sykes said in Manhattan federal court.Co-conspirators Alice Bradford, Tori Jackson and Lois Johnson all pleaded guilty previously.

Their brazen scheme, which involved more than 1,000 phony food-stamp cases, lasted more than four years before an alert HRA worker caught wind of it and blew the whistle last year.
Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said the city would immediately move to have Sykes canned from her $59,047-a-year job.

“These convictions are a warning to city employees and others who use the public coffers as if they were a personal ATM: investigators will shut down the corruption and individuals will be held accountable,” Hearn said.

Sykes declined to comment while leaving the courthouse, but her lawyer, Gary Maitland, noted that Sykes reaped only a fraction of the face value of the purloined public funds.

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