PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island deputy sheriff has been arrested and charged with fraudulently obtaining food stamps while collecting a tax-free state salary.
Edward Cooper Jr., 49, of Providence, voluntarily surrendered to Rhode Island State Police detectives Wednesday evening.
State police said they launched an investigation last month after the R.I. Department of Human Services alerted them to Cooper’s alleged actions.
The investigation revealed Cooper allegedly applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on Dec. 1, 2015, and collected food stamps totaling $12,065 through Nov. 1, 2017.
According to state police, Cooper is a 14-year veteran of the R.I. Division of Sheriffs but has been out of work due to a job-related injury since October 2015. He receives an annual state salary of $54,866 tax-free, police said.
Investigators believe that when Cooper applied for public assistance, he did not provide accurate information and as such, was ineligible for state assistance.
Cooper was arraigned before a bail commissioner Wednesday on felony charges of fraudulently obtaining assistance over $500 and fraudulent use of food stamps over $500, as well as a misdemeanor charge of giving a false document to a public official. He was released on personal recognizance.
State police said they’ve launched an internal investigation to determine whether disciplinary action should be taken.
In September 2015, Cooper was off-duty when he captured a suspect in a triple stabbing and held him at gunpoint until Providence police arrived on scene. He was honored for his actions at an awards ceremony the following month.