Authorities say they’ve snared a former state employee and an accomplice in a far-reaching food stamps fraud operation run out of a state office in Lebanon.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said ten indictments have come down against Tracey Deshaye Timbs, 43, of Smith County, and six charges against Michael Nichols, 31, of Gallatin.
A three-month TBI investigation spun out of concerns within the Department of Human Services, which oversees food stamps — officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
DHS learned of fraudulent food stamp accounts being created and sold of the Lebanon office on Legends Drive, where Timbs worked as an eligibility counselor, according to the TBI. She also tampered with government records and created bogus benefits cards — at least 40 false accounts with more than $150,000 in fraudulent benefits — including some exchanged for cash and drugs, authorities said.
DHS terminated Timbs, who is charged with identity theft trafficking, official misconduct, food stamp fraud, records tampering and fraudulent receipt of temporary assistance. Nichols is charged with three counts each of food stamp fraud and fraudulent receipt of temporary assistance.
Both were booked into the Wilson County Jail and released after posting bonds. The investigation could lead to more charges, authorities said.
The state’s DHS fraud tip line is 1-800-241-2629 or 615-741-7445 in the Nashville area. Information can also be emailed to InspectorGeneral.DHS@tn.gov.