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Former investigator for Pasco Sheriff's Office charged with welfare fraud

NEW PORT RICHEY — A former child protective investigator for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office was arrested Monday on accusations she falsified documents so she and her boyfriend could get food stamps and other government assistance.

Elizabeth C. Haigh, 26, is charged with welfare fraud. Court documents state that between December 2008 and May 2009, while she was working for the Sheriff's Office, Haigh fraudulently received "food stamp benefits, cash assistance and Medicaid services."

Haigh gave birth to a son in December 2008. Court documents say from that month through April 2009, Haigh's boyfriend — Michael Devine, the father of her child — submitted applications to the Florida Department of Children and Families for food stamps and Medicaid benefits declaring himself as the sole caregiver for the child. He received $1,049.99 in government assistance.

Internal Affairs documents from the Sheriff's Office say a DCF investigator visited Devine's apartment at Millpond Lakes in New Port Richey on April 29. The investigator saw Haigh enter the apartment and learned she was the child's mother and lived there, the documents say.

DCF asked Haigh for her payroll history and Haigh submitted pay stubs saying she got $442.23 in gross wages for each pay period. Sheriff's Office documents say her gross pay was $1,173.29. As of July 2009, her yearly salary was $37,544.

Haigh told investigators she lived with her mother in St. Petersburg for the first five months after having her baby, but the investigation revealed she lived with Devine, documents say.

Haigh's providing of false information to DCF resulted in Devine receiving public assistance benefits, documents say.

Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for DCF, said there are many variables in deciding whether people are qualified for state assistance and Medicaid.

She said a person with a salary of about $38,000 could qualify for food stamps if that was the income for a household of seven.

Haigh was hired by the Sheriff's Office on Aug. 21, 2006. She resigned Oct. 27, 2009, while under investigation.

Haigh was released from the Pasco County jail on Monday on $1,500 bail.

When reached by phone Tuesday, Haigh declined to comment on the charges. Devine has not been charged.

Times researcher Will Gorham and reporter Molly Moorhead contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Former investigator for Pasco Sheriff's Office charged with welfare fraud 02/23/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 9:16pm]
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