JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – One of many scandals in this embezzlement uncovered by the State Auditor’s Office is millions in taxpayer funds from government food stamp programs allegedly going to personal use.
The main suspects in this part of the embezzlement may have left thousands of struggling Mississippi families starving while they raked in millions.
Many studies since 2016 have found Mississippi only issued most food stamp programs like Temporary Assistance For Needy Families known as TANF and other welfare benefits to less than 2% of applicants. Now those same programs appear to be caught in this scandal.
State Auditor Shad White made the bombshell announcement Wednesday announcing two of the six suspects arrested in this case were Dr. Nancy New of the state community education center and John Davis, former director of the Department Human Services.
With those TANF grants possibly going to investments and personal bank accounts of Dr. New people like Sabrina of Jackson, who’s a mother of three surprisingly found herself denied any TANF food aid despite meeting requirements.
“It’s plenty days I had to come up with something to make a meal,” Sabrina Dent told us. “I had to try to get out and get whatever I could for my kids to make a meal. I’d have to go to food pantries, or stewpot, I go to Christ Managers.”
“I started having one meal a day, sometimes I ate a pack of nabs a day,” Patricia Spencer-Carson of Yazoo City said. “My ex-husband and I agreed in lieu of child support he would bring our daughter food.”
Patricia walked us through her skepticism as she for years applied for TANF aid, but was always turned down despite qualifying.
“I was told I had to have an income,” Spencer-Carson continued. “Well I had to clean houses and when I would report that income I was looked in the face and said well you don’t need it.”
As arrests are made to those in charge, families like Patricia’s and Sabrina’s who have felt lost in the Human Services system are hopeful this brings reform and cheerful for justice.
“They need to really get them out of the system period,” Dent told us. “And get some people in there that are willing to help us instead of getting the money for themselves.”
“Let us help these families instead of judging them,” Spencer-Carson argued. “Let’s help these families who critically need it and let’s quit passing blame and divide to one another.”
Auditor Shad White also expressed his sympathy for families denied and unfairly treated in this incident and apologized for their losses. In total, the money taken from the temporary assistance for needy families could be more than $4 million.