The results of a state investigation into allegations of falsified food aid applications at the Human Services Department leave several questions unanswered. But they do acknowledge cases that should have qualified for emergency food aide “showed the potential falsification of assets” that caused benefits to be denied or delayed to people who should have received it. As both HSD officials and attorneys for the Center on Law and Poverty said this week in federal court, HSD’s investigation into the issue that has rocked the agency since April isn’t finished. HSD Inspector General Adrian Gallegos’ written report reflects this. “Until the investigation is complete and all facts are known, a determination of whether the allegations have been substantiated or not cannot be drawn,” he writes.
LAS CRUCES — After being under court order to hand in an investigation of allegedly fraudulent food aid practices last week, the investigator of a state agency testified in federal court Wednesday he was “not there yet” in completing his report. But Gallegos also acknowledged to Center on Law and Poverty attorney Sovereign Hager that potential wrongdoing “may be more egregious” than anyone perceived. While the state Human Services Department submitted the internal report to court last week, the department’s inspector general, Adrian Gallegos, told the federal court that he still hadn’t interviewed at least ten upper-level staffers. Employees at HSD testified in court and told Gallegos that these 10 staffers played a key role in the sanctioning of regularly adding fake assets to applications for emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. Related: Cabinet secretary testifies on alleged fraud allegations in his department
These emergency benefits are designed for those with extremely low incomes.