Kansas woman pleads no contest in $50,000 welfare fraud case

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A Clay County woman was recently convicted of defrauding the state more than $50,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, according to a news release.

Stephanie Hessling was found guilty of defrauding the food assistance program on Aug. 24, according to a release from the Kansas Department for Children and Families. She pleaded no contest.

“There is only so much money available for government-funded programs, such as food and cash assistance,” said Laura Lindsey, a department investigator. “Assuring that these resources are in fact given to Kansans in need, versus those who are misrepresenting their situations for personal gain, is very important to me.”

The DCF’s anti-fraud unit investigates possible welfare recipient fraud in all public assistance programs administered by the department, including cash assistance, food assistance, child care assistance and utility assistance.

During the state’s 2017 fiscal year, the release said, the anti-fraud unit secured more than 249 judgments – and more than $1.4 million – related to improper use of the SNAP program.

Earlier this year, the unit began offering an online submission form to report suspected incidents of fraud. Those who suspect benefits fraud are encouraged to fill out a form that can be found on the DCF website. Reports can also be made by calling 800-432-3913.

Bryan Horwath: 316-269-6708, @bryan_horwath