Police arrested 47-year old Sgt. Joyce Houston after eavesdropping on several phone calls with inmate Rita Girven, who is the biological mother of Houston’s adopted daughter. Girven, who is eligible for food stamps using an EBT card, allowed Houston to purchase groceries with her card. Houston would pass the EBT card to a family members in exchange for 50 cents on every dollar spent, which was set aside in Girven’s jail canteen account.
After 35 phone calls and nine weeks of investigation, the 16-year veteran with a salary of $91,4000, was caught. Houston was convicted on two charges of food stamp fraud and one charge grand theft with the possibility of losing her $46,000 annual pension. Reports indicate her husband, a respected homicide investigator with the Tampa Police, had nothing to do with these actions and was clueless on her wife’s actions.
Police come to find out the EBT card wasn’t even registered in Girven’s name, but to her 12-year-old son who Girven doesn’t have custody of and shows no financial support. Thus, resulting in additional charges of welfare fraud for Griven.
At a press conference, Chief Jane Castor spoke of the recent arrest and firing of the officer, clarifying these actions don’t take away from their staff of nearly 1,000 Tampa police officers, who work hard and honest every day.