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Waste watch: EBT card abuse

Updated: Wednesday, July 24 2013, 09:52 AM EDT

Rochester, N.Y. - Your tax dollars are being spent by some to buy alcohol, cigarettes, and lottery tickets through the use of state issued benefits cards, or EBT cards. Just last week, State Senators passed a law to ban that practice.

But the Assembly refuses to touch the law.

Your tax dollars are withdrawn at all hours of the day, though these EBT cards.

According to State Senator Tom Libous of Binghamton, between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m alone, $4 million dollars was withdrawn – in just one month.

And from all sorts of places.

A Waste Watch investigation by 13WHAM's Albany sister station showed that state issued benefits cards were used to withdraw cash at ATM’s in bar districts, off-track-betting parlors, and even strip clubs.

There’s no evidence to suggest that they money was actually spent in these places - but Senate Republicans acted to stop that practice.

That legislation is called the Public Assistance Integrity Act, which would ban the use of EBT cards at liquor stores, casinos, strip clubs, and purchases of alcohol or tobacco.

State Senators passed the bill last week - but the State Assembly has done nothing with the bill since January.

“We fully understand that there are people in this state that need help, and actually what this bill does is help those people because we're going to go after those individuals who defraud the system,” said Libous.

Republican State Senators say that if the Assembly fails to pass this law, the state could face a $125 million dollar fine from the federal government next year.

Assembly majority leader Joe Morelle of Irondequoit tells 13WHAM news it is unlikely that the Assembly takes up this piece of legislation by the end of the year.

Waste watch: EBT card abuse

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