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DCFS responds to Vitter's requests following EBT confusion - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

DCFS responds to Vitter's requests following Walmart-EBT confusion

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In a letter to the Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the Louisiana Dept. of Children and Family Services, US Senator David Vitter (R-La) says tax-payers shouldn't reimburse the Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield that- against protocol- rang up hundreds of dollars in groceries for customers during a Oct. 12 EBT system glitch against.

Related Article: Vitter: EBT Card fraud in Louisiana should disqualify recipients

"I think there should be some significant consequences to that theft and that fraud because that's what it is, and it's hurting the honest beneficiaries in the program, the people who really need that help," Vitter said to KTBS 3 News.

While the opportunists may affect the EBT system's reputation, the DCFS didn't plan on making those reimbursements, even before Vitter's letter.

"The state publicly notified retailers on October 14 that they would be reimbursed only for transactions at or under the balance on the card," DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier said today in a press release.

Sonnier said Xerox, the contractor for Louisiana's EBT system, has a policy set up for emergency situations like the one Oct. 12 that would allow someone to buy up to $50 in merchandise.

"Numerous retailers across the state chose not to follow that emergency process and continued serving customers, saving transactions until connectivity was restored," Sonnier said in the statement.

Vitter's letter also asks that beneficiaries who knowingly stole groceries during the outage be cut from the program.

Again, Sonnier says the department has that covered.

Under Louisiana's current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, first time offenders are sanctioned for a year. A second offense results in a two year suspension. After a third offense, users are permanently barred from the program.

Vitter's final recommendation asked for a "task force with local prosecutors to prosecute individuals guilty of theft and fraud in these incidents" even if the stores involved do not want to press charges.

Related Article: Many Police looking to charge those who stole from Walmart during EBT glitch

On this final request, the DCFS will "cooperate fully with local law enforcement in any effort to prosecute individuals at the request of the retailers."

Click here to view the full letter to Senator Vitter from DCFS.

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