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6 charged with food stamp theft

One runs federal housing voucher program for city

One of six women charged in a food-stamp fraud ring is the director of a federal housing program in Fort Wayne.

Betty L. Anderson, head of the city’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, has been charged with felony theft and misdemeanor welfare fraud.

The case arose last summer after thousands of dollars were accidentally issued to a woman’s food-stamp account. That woman, Dana Freeman, 22, conspired with Anderson and others to spend the money at grocery stores, according to court documents.

During a power outage July 12, the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration erroneously placed $3,503 in food stamps on Freeman’s electronic benefit card. The agency had meant to put only $350 on her card, court documents stated.

The agency called Freeman the same day, asking that she come to the local office so the extra $3,153 could be removed from her account, but she did not do so. Instead, Freeman, with help from a middleman, let five women, including Anderson, use the card at grocery stores where they spent $2,256.73, court documents stated.

Five other unidentified people were also allowed to use the card. Those five and the middleman have not been charged.

Some of the women gave cash to Freeman or the middleman for the chance to use the card. In Anderson’s case, she paid $150 to spend $300 in food stamps, court documents said. The law prohibits buying, selling or trading food stamps.

On Monday, Anderson’s boss, Maynard Scales, said he learned of the allegations over the weekend and had no details about the case.

“We will look into it and see if there has been any impropriety on her part as far as her employment,” said Scales, head of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority.

Scales said Anderson, for now, remains in her position as director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The program – formerly known as Section 8 – helps house senior citizens, low-income workers and people with disabilities.

He said Anderson has worked for the Housing Authority for at least 15 years and has been a “valued employee.”

“I’m certainly willing to give her the benefit of the doubt – innocent until proven guilty,” he said. “She’s above reproach, as far as I’m concerned, ethically.”

Anderson, 61, of the 3900 block of Robinwood Drive, had not been arrested as of Monday. A phone message left at her home was not returned.

Four other women accused of using the food-stamp card have been charged with felony theft and misdemeanor welfare fraud. They are Dorothy Glass, 50, of the 1200 block of Dawnan Drive; Sandrona Johnson, 41, of the 1200 block of Michigan Avenue; Threather Jones, 62, of the 7100 block of Thamesford Drive; and Rose Haney, 54, of the 4000 block of South Park Drive.

Haney also faces a felony count of corrupt business influence.

The cardholder, Dana Freeman, of the 400 block of Fairwick Lane, was charged with felony theft and felony corrupt business influence.