Former St. Joseph Jail Employee Indicted for Illegally Using Food Stamp Benefits, Distributing Hydrocodone
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former civilian employee of the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department has been indicted by a federal grand jury for distributing hydrocodone and for illegally using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.
Kathleen “Kat” P. Blakely-Polk, 49, of St. Joseph, was charged in an eight-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. That indictment was unsealed and made public upon Blakely-Polk’s arrest and initial court appearance.
Blakely-Polk was employed as a booking desk officer at the St. Joseph Police Department Law Enforcement Center during the time of the alleged violations. The federal indictment charges her with five counts of illegally using EBT cards and three counts of distributing hydrocodone.
The indictment alleges that Blakely-Polk illegally used an EBT card on May 2 and May 3, 2011.
The indictment alleges that Blakely-Polk distributed hydrocodone on June 30, 2011 and that she illegally used an EBT card on July 1, 2011.
The indictment alleges that Blakely-Polk distributed hydrocodone on July 21, 2011 and that she illegally used an EBT card on July 23, 2011.
The indictment alleges that Blakely-Polk distributed hydrocodone on Aug. 4, 2011 and that she illegally used an EBT card on Aug. 5, 2011.
The indictment alleges that Blakely-Polk used federal benefits – specifically, benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program – in an unauthorized manner. In 1998, the USDA (through the Missouri Division of Social Services) converted from a traditional paper food stamp coupon system to the EBT card system. Instead of being issued food stamp coupons, SNAP recipients were issued EBT cards that could be used at participating retailers. EBT cards, which are similar to credit and debit cards, are linked to a recipient’s benefit account, and credited with the recipient’s allocated benefits on a monthly basis. The recipient can then redeem the benefits at participating authorized retailers. The redemption of SNAP benefits is done in a fashion similar to a credit or debit card transaction.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jalilah Otto. It was investigated by the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.