Welfare, food stamp fraud rises in Virginia Beach, some military spouses charged

Posted at 8:17 PM, Aug 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-15 08:15:32-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - Tasheira Cope is the wife of an active-duty Navy Sailor, living in Navy Housing near Little Creek Amphibious Base. Now, she is facing felony charges for lying on a welfare application and not properly reporting income in her household--accused of defrauding the government of more than $13,000.

She's not the only one...Rochell Ferrah Kemp is accused of defrauding the government of more than $16,000 in food stamps, while she was living in military housing with her husband.

“They are supposed to report to us his income, but a lot of times they will come to us and say he is not in the home,” said Janice Heater, a fraud investigator with Virginia Beach Human Services.

She says it’s not just military families contributing to the rise in cases coming into her office.

Related: Millions eligible for food stamps do not sign up for benefits

“We are up about 100 more cases than we were last year,” said Heater.

So far in 2013, the Virginia Beach Commonwealth Attorney has indicted more than 30 people for welfare or food stamp fraud totaling more than $200,000.

The biggest case NewsChannel 3 uncovered was for Nicole Anastacia Warren.

She got more than $44,000 in aid prosecutors say she didn't qualify for by lying on her application and hiding income information.

Another surprising case comes from Richard Lee Cook.

According to his court files, he is the general manager of a transmission company in Virginia Beach making $62,000 a year.

Now, he is accused of lying and hiding information to get welfare checks and food stamps--totaling more than $9,000.

“I believe it’s greed and extra cash in their pocket,” said Heater.

Taking that cash away from those who need it, the average family of four who qualifies for food stamps makes less than $29,000 a year.