Arrests Made in Ongoing Investigation into Theft of Electronic Benefit Cards

April 6, 2010

DECATUR, GA – On March 23, the United States Postal Inspection Service notified the GBI about potential theft/fraud concerning Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards issued by the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS).  The GBI immediately contacted DHS and learned that DHS' Inspector General was already investigating the same case.  A joint investigation was then started.

The joint investigation has led to four arrests so far. Those arrested are as follows:

Hosie Lee Baugh, 27, was arrested on March 24 after attempting to obtain EBT cards and other U.S. mail from a US Mail Carrier. Baugh was charged with Financial Transaction Card Fraud and Conspiracy to Defraud the State.

Gene Dennis Tell, 34, and a DHS employee, was arrested on March 31 and charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the State.

Kristy Nicole Williams, 27, and a DHS employee, was arrested on April 2 and charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the State.

Tawanda Yvette Bowe, 39, was arrested on April 2 and charged Conspiracy to Defraud the State.

DHS Commissioner B. J. Walker stated, "For a public servant there is no greater sin than violating the public's trust. That trust has been broken and we intend to make sure it is restored."

GBI Director Vernon Keenan said, “The theft of State funds is one of the top priorities for the GBI, and we will continue to provide every available resource within our agency to identify all those involved.“

"The illegal use of the U. S. mail will not be tolerated to further fraudulent schemes.  Postal Inspectors will continue to go after anyone who attempts to violate the trust we have established over the past 200 years." said Martin D. Phanco, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division.

During the investigation, agents executed search warrants at two residences on March 31 and April 2 and one business on April 2. 

GBI, DHS, and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service continue to investigate this matter, which involves only the DeKalb County DHS/DFACS Office at this time. The estimated value of the stolen EBT cards is $1.7 million.

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Contact Information: 
John Bankhead, GBI, 404-270-8330; Dena Smith, DHS, 404-656-4937