CLEVELAND – Investigators said that a Cuyahoga County worker abused a taxpayer program intended to help the poor buy refrigerators and other essential items.
It's a Tom Meyer investigation that you could have only seen on Action News.
"It helps them get them on their feet by providing up to $3,000 a year to buy big ticket items," assistant county prosecutor Dan Kasaris said.
Instead of helping the needy, Alicia Gibson is accused of helping herself. Gibson, who worked in the county welfare department, is accused of shaking down low-income Clevelanders at county office buildings.
Prosecutors said that she would make individuals eligible for public assistance providing they gave her a kickback.
In some cases, investigators said that Gibson used government vouchers to purchase appliances at a store on St. Clair Avenue.
"She essentially put pressure on clients in order to get their benefits that they would essentially have to share with her," county administrator Richard Werner said.
At Gibson's last known address, there was no answer when Action News showed up to try to ask questions. Victims couldn't be reached either, but one man on public assistance had the following reaction:
"I'm not surprised, really," welfare recipient Wendall Spraggins said. "There's so much corruption these days that I'm not surprised."