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Deputies arrested a Lancaster woman Jan. 16 after an investigation into almost $8,000 in defrauded food stamps.
Janet Renee Helms, 33, 998 Hampton Grace Ave., was arrested on a charge of fraudulent acquisition or use of food stamps, valued at $5,000 or more, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office incident report.
The arrest came after an investigation by the Lancaster County Department of Social Services into Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits Helms received between Oct. 1, 2004, and April 30, 2010, per an arrest warrant issued and signed Jan. 9 by Lancaster County Magistrate Judge Jackie Pope.
Charges were filed after a DSS investigator reviewed four SNAP applications from Helms that dated between April 2004 and March 2007, as well as eight recertification forms she mailed that were dated between September 2005 and March 2010, the warrant said.
Based on the information, the investigator said Helms failed to report her correct benefit group composition and listed a minor family member as a benefit group member, though the minor had not lived with her since 2004, the warrant said.
The warrant states that Helms was wanted for defrauding DSS of $7,756 in benefits.
Helms was arrested at her home and jailed at the Lancaster County Detention Center on the outstanding warrant.
According to the S.C. Judicial Department website, a $15,000 personal recognizance bond was issued for Helms during a bond hearing Jan. 16.
Helms posted bond the same day, though there are several conditions to her release including needing permission to leave the state and appearing in court on her scheduled date of March 8. The case is still pending, per judicial records.
Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Matt Shaw said the investigation was handled solely by Lancaster County DSS, which forwarded the arrest warrant to the sheriff’s office.
“They have their own investigative division, just like DHEC has, with their own investigators who look into cases like these,” Shaw said. “When an investigation is complete, the investigators send us the arrest warrant and we go and serve it.”
Janice Chapman, with Lancaster County DSS, declined to comment on the case Wednesday, Jan. 30.
“I cannot talk with the media about any information in our local office, so I can neither confirm nor deny any information,” Chapman said.
Chapman referred all questions to DSS’ Office of General Counsel in Columbia, though calls to that office were not returned Thursday, Jan. 31, by The Lancaster News’ deadline.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416