Welfare fraud? Tell me it isn’t so….

Three face charges in Douglas County for alleged EBT fraud
By Superior Telegram on Jan 5, 2016 at 5:13 p.m.

Phone calls made from the Douglas County Jail uncovered a case of apparent food stamp fraud, according to criminal charges filed last month.

Two Superior residents have been charged in Douglas County Circuit Court for an alleged scheme involving trading electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card purchases for cigarettes. A third person is accused of filing a false food stamp renewal form.

Nicole Marie Stouffer, 35, of Superior faces felony charges of party to misstating facts in a food stamp application and knowingly trafficking food stamps. Her mother, Judith Faye Tuura, 56, of Iron River faces a charge of party to misstating facts in a food stamp application.

The Superior man who allegedly used Stouffer’s EBT card most of 2015, Edward David St. John, 69, faces a charge of party to knowingly trafficking food stamps.

According to the criminal complaints:

Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Schnell discovered the fraud while monitoring inmate phone calls from the Douglas County Jail in October. Stouffer, who was in custody at the time, told Tuura over the phone that St. John had her EBT card, and that he’d had it since February. She told her mother that St. John kept using it and not paying her, not bringing her soda or cigarettes.

St. John admitted he had Stouffer’s EBT card from February until about Oct. 14. He told deputies that he would use the card to buy items for himself and would buy the defendant cigarettes in exchange for using the card. In all, about $1,374 worth of purchases were made on Stouffer’s EBT card while it was in St. John’s possession.

In another call from jail, Stouffer offered her food stamps and Social Security check to her mother in exchange for bail money. She also asked Tuura to file a renewal application with the FoodShare program and sign it in Stouffer’s name. She told Tuura to go ahead and use the card to buy food for herself as well.

The card was used in Ashland to purchase $183 worth of goods on Oct. 16 while Stouffer was in custody. She also was incarcerated and in lockdown status with no access to a computer on Oct. 27, when her food stamp renewal form was signed electronically. A number of entries on the renewal form, including Stouffer’s address and phone number, were false.

Each of the charges are punishable with a maximum of 3½ years in prison and fine up to $10,000.

Stouffer was released from custody after posting $500 cash bail. Her next court appearance is slated for next Monday.

St. John made an initial court appearance last Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court. He was released on a $2,000 signature bond and ordered to have no contact with Stouffer. His next court appearance is set for Wednesday.

An arrest warrant was issued Dec. 17 for Tuura.

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