EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 12, 2013

State, police team up to curb EBT abuse

(Continued)

Police chiefs from Everett and Chelsea gathered on the front steps of the State House yesterday morning to announce a collaboration between local police and the Department of Transitional Assistance in curbing trafficking of EBT cards and the purchase of prohibited items with EBT cards.

“This new partnership is important to helping DTA protect our programs that so many families use as a bridge to stability during difficult times,” said DTA Interim Commissioner Stacey Monahan. She said, “We need to make sure we can strengthen our safety net.”

The partnership will allow data-sharing between DTA, which is not an enforcement agency, and local police to battle fraud and misuse of the program, such as the use of public benefits to purchase alcohol.

The DTA has launched a biweekly monitoring of ATM withdrawals and purchases to identify sales at prohibited establishments, with a goal of blocking ATM and cash assistance at prohibited establishments in place by October. DTA staff are also monitoring where transactions are located and visiting establishments that sell prohibited items, with the goal of sharing information with law enforcement.

Polanowicz said clients who misuse their EBT cards are suspended at the first instance, suspended for two months on the second instance, and on the third instance prohibited from using the EBT benefits. Monahan said there are fines of up to $2,500 for retailers.

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