A Rhode Island deputy sheriff has been accused of taking food stamp benefits while raking in a tax-free state salary.
Rhode Island State Police detectives arrested Edward Cooper Jr., 49, of Providence Wednesday evening after he voluntarily surrendered himself to authorities, WPRI reported.
The Rhode Island Department of Human Services alerted state police officials about a potential case of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud, prompting the state police to conduct an investigation.
The state police investigation found that Cooper allegedly applied for SNAP benefits on December 1, 2015, and collected $12,065 worth of benefits through November 1, 2017, while receiving a tax-free state salary of $54,866, police said.
Investigators say the 14-year veteran sheriff’s deputy failed to provide accurate information when applying for benefits.
The state police said Cooper had been out of work since October 20, 2015, due to a job-related injury but had still received his tax-free salary because he was injured while on duty, WHDH reported.
Cooper was charged with two counts of felony food stamp fraud and one misdemeanor count of providing a false document to a public official. He was released on his own recognizance and is expected to appear in court at a later date.
Food stamp fraud can carry serious penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and millions of dollars in fines to the federal government in the most serious cases. Breitbart News reported in April that federal investigators discovered an Ohio business conducted $8.4 million worth of food stamp fraud.