By Timothy Cox
The Statehouse File
INDIANAPOLIS – Robert Edwards, 37, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison by a federal judge on Thursday after pleading guilty to defrauding government programs while employed as a caseworker for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.
Edwards and an alleged co-defendant would access the accounts of families registered for welfare or food stamp benefits and make electronic benefit transfer cards connected to those accounts. Then they traded the cards for drugs.
“Every single time one of these cards was made, Mr. Edwards victimized Hoosiers – the legitimate cardholder, hard-working taxpayers, and all public employees,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett.
The scheme lasted from December 2008 through April 2010, during which time Edwards created 62 benefits cards and withdrew nearly $126,000 from poor Hoosiers’ accounts.
Edwards was ordered to repay nearly $186,000, which is the sum of his theft and that of his alleged co-defendants. He must undergo total supervision for the first three years after his release.
“I hope this prosecution makes clear that there is no such thing as an acceptable level of fraud or waste in government, and this office will continue to be aggressive in identifying and prosecuting anyone violating the public’s trust,” Hogsett said.
FSSA spokesman Neal Moore said Thursday that the state agency had been involved in the investigation and played “a major role in discovering details about the fraudulent activities.”
“We are pleased the guilty party in this case is being held accountable for his illegal actions,” Moore said. “We will continue to aggressively investigate and pursue instances of fraud – whether it involves employees or recipients.”
Timothy Cox is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.