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DA: Nassau caseworker stole food stamp benefits

A Nassau government social services caseworker was arrested Friday morning and charged with stealing about $330 in food stamp benefits from one of his low-income clients, authorities said.

Wesley Castor, 37, a county Department of Social Services worker, used the money to buy groceries for himself, the Nassau District Attorney's office said.

Castor, of Hempstead, faces fourth-degree grand larceny and official misconduct charges after he was arrested by district attorney investigators.

"This defendant was employed by the Department of Social Services to help those in need, but instead he stole food assistance benefits from woman in need and scammed the taxpayers," Kathleen Rice, the Nassau district attorney, said in a prepared statement.

"Food stamps provide life-sustaining nutritional assistance to low-income families, seniors, and the disabled, and it is outrageous that this defendant kept those benefits for himself," Rice said.

Castor was released on his own recognizance and was due back in court March 19.

The theft took place July 27, 2009, when Castor, while working as a DSS caseworker, learned from one of his clients that her food stamp funds were missing from her benefit card, prosecutors said.

"Castor then requested that a temporary card be issued in the name of the DSS client, signed for the card, and posted $367 in food stamp benefits to the card," a Friday news release said.

"Later that day, Castor, accompanied by a female DSS employee, used the card at Compare Foods in Freeport to purchase groceries for himself," the news release said.

The grocery store was equipped with surveillance video, which recorded Castor using the card to pay for food, police said. When the DSS client checked her food stamp balance the next day she found that less than $30 remained on her card, and she reported the missing benefits to DSS, officials said.

After an investigation DSS referred the case to the district attorney's office.

The female DSS employee had not been charged, but remained under investigation, prosecutors said Friday.

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