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Constable arrested on EBT fraud

Posted: March 10, 2011 5:33 p.m.
Updated: March 11, 2011 5:00 a.m.

A Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) constable has been arrested and charged with two counts of electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card fraud and one count of misconduct in office.

Sheriff Jim Matthews confirmed that Constable Virginia Nelson Jefferson, 51, has also been terminated from her job as a member of the Kershaw County Courthouse security team.

Jefferson was arrested by Camden Police Department (CPD) officers after she turned herself in, said Chief Joe Floyd. He said Jefferson was interviewed late Wednesday afternoon but was not immediately arrested.

“We had information that she had bought an EBT card from somebody else and used it for her own purposes,” Floyd said. “We had someone that she had dealt with before deliver her another EBT card to her and she agreed to make payments on it.”

In the first case, according to CPD reports, detectives received information that Jefferson was purchasing food stamps by paying for EBT cards from different food stamp clients. One person told detectives that he sold his card with $200 worth of benefits to Jefferson for only $100, took him to a store where he provided her with his personal identification number (PIN) and that she purchased food with the card while he was with her.

That took place Tuesday, according to the report.

According to the second report, an agent working with the CPD approached Jefferson in front of the Kershaw County Courthouse on Wednesday afternoon. Jefferson allegedly agreed to pay the agent $100 for a $50 EBT card. She reportedly took the card, wrote down the PIN on a piece of paper which she then wrapped around the card and place in the front pocket of her constable’s uniform.

He said officers moved quickly to pick Jefferson up for questioning as she was getting ready to finish her duties at the courthouse Wednesday.

“It was around 5 p.m. and I called (Sheriff Matthews) to let him know we were in the process of questioning one of his employees,” said Floyd.

He said Jefferson admitted to accepting the second EBT card from the CPD’s agent but also admitted to the earlier EBT card purchase.

“We didn’t want to make an arrest until we had evidence to support her admission,” Floyd said.

That proof, he said, came in the form of video footage from the store where she used the EBT card. Floyd said it does not appear that Jefferson used the card to purchase anything outside of the EBT program, which replaced food stamps some years ago.

“But even if you use it for purposes the card is for, if it doesn’t belong to you, you’re still breaking the law,” said Floyd.

EBT fraud is a municipal court offense, said Floyd. Jefferson could face up to 30 days in jail and a possible fine.

“I am serving her with a warrant of misconduct in office and terminated her from employment,” Matthews confirmed.

Jefferson could face up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine related to that charge, according to Nicole Holland, director of communications for the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

A bond hearing for Jefferson was scheduled for late Thursday afternoon. Floyd and Matthews both said they would ask for a personal recognizance (no cash) bond.

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