Hearing for First State Employee Accused of Fraud

Mother of two said she didn't try to defraud the D-SNAP program after Irene.

The first of many state employees accused of defrauding the state D-SNAP program after Tropcial Storm Irene attended a hearing on her job status Thursday.

Lisa Prout, who has worked at Connecticut Valley Hospital for 11 years, said she didn't think it was illegal for her to apply for the funds.

"I never intended to defraud or take advantage of this program," Prout said after Thursday's hearing.

She was one of hundreds of state employees to stood in line in September to apply for aid from the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program in the wake of Irene. Many state employees were eligible for the funds, but Gov. Dannel Malloy and his chief legal counsel say some lied on applications to appear to qualify for the funds.

State records show Prout, a single mother of two, earned more than $80,000 last year, unlike most of the applicants.  Her lawyer, Rich Rochlin, said Prout told had very little money in her account during Irene, which qualified for assistance. “They were passing out this money like it’s Halloween candy,” Rochlin said.

Rochlin blamed Malloy and said workers who processed the D-SNAP applications weren't trained well enough. Malloy disagreed Thursday.

“What we want to make very clear is if people violated the trust that they have as state employees they're going to be dealt with and that's what we're going to do."

No decision was made on whether Prout will keep her job. The decision should come down in a few days.

"I'll lose everything. My house, I don't know," Prout said. "The stress has been phenomenal."

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