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Former DHS worker charged in extensive TBI SNAP fraud case

Staff Reports • Dec 15, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents received indictments from a Wilson County grand jury for a Smith County woman and an accomplice accused of participating in a far-reaching SNAP fraud case.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program program was previously referred to as food stamps.

TBI agents started an investigation involving Tracey Deshaye Timbs, 43, of Pleasant Shade, on April 11 at the request of District Attorney Tommy Thompson and officials with the Department of Human Services.

In early 2014, DHS officials believed possible fraudulent SNAP accounts were created and sold for profit out of its Lebanon office on Legends Drive, where Timbs worked as an eligibility counselor. Investigators further found Timbs apparently tampered with government records to create the accounts, producing EBT cards and identifying information, which were subsequently mailed to several people, including Matthew Scott Nichols, 31, of Gallatin, in exchange for cash and drugs. On Friday, investigators identified more than 40 false accounts with more than $150,000 in benefits distributed fraudulently. Department of Human Services officials fired Timbs from her job.

On Monday, a Wilson County grand jury indicted Timbs on 10 counts of identity theft trafficking, one count of official misconduct, one count of welfare fraud, one count of fraudulent receipt of temporary assistance and one count of tampering with government records.

The grand jury indicted Nichols on three counts of food stamp fraud and three counts of fraudulent receipt of temporary assistance.

Both Timbs and Nichols were booked in at the Wilson County Jail on Friday night. Timbs was released on $10,000 bond. Nichols was released on $20,000 bond. Both have court dates set for July 24.

TBI agents and DHS investigators said the investigation remained open, and more charges and suspects may be forthcoming.

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