Fraud investigation leads to arrest in Lowndes County

An investigation conducted by the Investigations Division of the Mississippi Department of Human Services has led to the indictment and arrest of a former employee in Lowndes County.

Former Clerical Support employee Deidra Norris is accused of stealing and activating SNAP EBT cards from individuals who were in a drug rehab facility. Norris also confessed to buying and selling multiple other EBT cards.

Once the information was discovered, the investigation team moved quickly to gather the necessary evidence, which is then turned over to the Lowndes County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The employee was immediately terminated from the agency.

A Lowndes County Grand Jury indicted Norris on four counts of food stamp fraud. The penalty for each count of food stamp fraud is three years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

“This was a joint effort between our team, local law enforcement, and the District Attorney’s Office,” Eric Johnson, Director of Investigations for MDHS said. “We take every fraud tip seriously and we will investigate each one to the fullest extent possible.”

Norris turned herself into MDHS investigators and local law enforcement Tuesday morning. The agency will continue to assist in any way. All further questions should be directed to the Lowndes County District Attorney’s Office.

The Investigations Division is a subset of the MDHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which was created in August 2018 and charged with detecting, preventing, and deterring fraud, waste, and abuse within the agency. Through its audit, investigations, and monitoring, it has been responsible for $4,384,866 in funds collected from SNAP and TANF violations.

“This should serve as an example that this is a new day for the Mississippi Department of Human Services, and fraud of any kind will not be tolerated going forward,” MDHS Executive Director Robert G. “Bob” Anderson said. “We expect employees to conduct themselves with the utmost integrity and will hold them accountable to that standard.”