A 13-year state employee charged this summer with theft and fraud in a food stamp scam with her husband received three years of probation Thursday and must pay restitution.
Felisa Renee Trotter, 38, was arrested July 27 following a six-count grand jury indictment charging her with theft over $1,000, food stamp fraud, fraudulent use of a credit card over $1,000 and three counts of official misconduct.
After Trotter agreed to plea guilty, she received a judicial diversion Thursday as part of an arrangement with the district attorney’s office. Trotter faces a three-year suspended sentence on the credit card fraud charge and a concurrent two-year suspended sentence for the official misconduct charge.
During that time she will be on supervised probation until she pays a restitution of about $7,500. Once that’s paid off she will be on unsupervised probation, and if she remains in compliance with the agreement over the three years — essentially, she stays out of trouble — she could petition the court to remove the charges from her record.
Trotter’s case was a matter of hard times catching up to her, said her attorney, G. Wayne Davis.
“Bad economic times bring a lot of the worst out of people. … It’s not within her character to do that,” Davis said.
An investigation by the state inspector general’s office found that Trotter, who worked in the Department of Human Services before the indictment, had set up a false food stamp case in her husband’s name, leaving off the part about being married to him.
A false application gave the appearance that her husband, Derrick Yvell Trotter, was the only adult in the household. By leaving her name off of the application and giving the appearance of a single-parent family, the family was then eligible to receive food stamps, which it did over a period between fall 2008 up to early July of this year.
“She worked for us and was in a position to know that,” said DHS Inspector General Alan Hall. “It’s not your normal household fraud case, in other words.”
“She knew about it. She knew it was wrong. She knew the policy — and yet she continued to perpetrate the fraud … while working for us.”
It was Felisa Trotter’s first offense, however, leaving her eligible for the judicial diversion outcome she received Thursday, something agreed upon by DHS officials and the district attorney’s office.
“Everyone makes mistakes. She made hers,” Davis said.
Derrick Trotter, 36, is charged with theft over $1,000, food stamp fraud and fraudulent use of credit card over $1,000. His case has yet to go to trial.