Missouri Welfare dollars withdrawn from casinos and strip clubs, from Las Vegas to Virgin Islands


by Chris Nagus / News 4


Posted on October 30, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 30 at 9:40 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Thousands of Missouri tax dollars spent in casinos, strip clubs, and bars.These are Missouri welfare cards being accessed for cash at ATMs in some bizarre places.

The state can’t tell you how nearly $100 million of your tax dollars are actually spent because what’s purchased with that cash isn’t tracked, but the ATM locations are recorded.

News 4 spent the last two years digging into this issue and continues to find plenty of red flags.

Out Investigative team found Missouri TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) money withdrawn from places like Las Vegas Strip Clubs, upscale shopping centers in Scottsdale Arizona and even a gambling center in the Virgin Islands.

We analyzed one year of Missouri TANF withdrawals that covered more than 8 hundred thousand transactions across all 50 states.

In Texas, $174,219.73 Missouri welfare dollars were withdrawn, including a 60 dollar transaction inside Diamond Joe’s saloon.

In Chicago someone used a Missouri welfare card to stimulate the economy at a local factory, a factory that manufactures adult entertainment.

News 4 spoke with both Republican and Democratic state senators about this issue.

Republican Will Kraus told us “I want our tax dollars to go to people who need it not those gaming the system.”

And Democrat Maria Chappelle-Nadal agrees some of these transactions are hard to justify,

Transactions like at bars on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, including the Tropical Isle: home of the hand grenade New Orleans most powerful drink.

Also at Ripley’s Believe it or not in San Antonio, Texas, plus $4,040 accessed at the 7th street casino in Kansas City.

There’s other casino withdrawals much farther away, including the Riviera resort in Las Vegas and other casinos in Carson City.

Also there was $1,365.52 worth of withdrawals in the Virgin Islands, including $120 at the Pot of Gold Gaming Center on the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

Not to mention liquor stores from Cleveland to Chicago.

“What is not justifiable is if you are using money to gamble or if you’re using it a strip club” said Chappelle-Nadal.

Chappelle-Nadal immediately contacted the Department of Social Services after News 4 contacted her.

DSS sent her an email, citing two of Chris Nagus’ previous welfare investigations, and assured her TANF is designed to assist needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes.

She went on to say that “as legislators we have the opportunity to deal with this issue head on in January.

Chappelle-Nadal would like to see more welfare fraud investigators.

Currently there are only 14 investigators plus 4 supervisors to monitor the billion dollar Missouri food stamp and 100 million dollar TANF program.