State: Florida woman fraudulently collected $7K in food stamps

She said she was unemployed while earning six-figure salary, records show

By Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer

Clark (Photo: Sumter County Sheriff's Office)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A central Florida woman is accused of bilking taxpayers out of thousands of dollars in welfare benefits while collecting a six-figure salary.

Cindy Laraine Clark, 54, of Oxford told the Department of Children and Families on multiple occasions between July 2015 and July 2016 that she was unemployed, according to court documents.

In reality, Clark was working for a home health care company based in The Villages, where she was paid $133,191.17 from September 2015 to December 2016, court documents stated.

RELATED: 198 ensnared in Jacksonville food stamp fraud totaling $3.7 million | USDA expands 'focus on integrity' in food stamp program | Report public assistance fraud to Florida DCF

As a result, investigators concluded that she was not legally eligible to receive $7,015 in food stamp benefits she collected from October 2015 through December 2016.

Clark was arrested March 10 and booked into the Sumter County jail on a third-degree felony charge of welfare fraud, jail records show. She is currently free on $2,000 bond.

According to Orlando’s WFTV-TV, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis did not mince words in a statement responding to the case: 

"Public assistance fraud steals from Floridians who need it most and anyone who tries to game the system will be arrested and held accountable. This criminal knowingly took money that could have otherwise gone to a Florida family in need. It's disgusting and unacceptable."

The news comes weeks after Jacksonville authorities announced the results of a crackdown on food stamp fraud. Police said nearly 200 people were involved in a scheme to swap SNAP benefits for cash.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rolled out a plan to ferret out fraud and waste in its nutritional programs, including the $80 billion food stamp program.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.