PDT Staff Writer
Adams County Sheriff Kim Rogers has some heavy questions he wants answered, and he is looking for answers to those questions when he meets with staffers from offices of government officials Thursday.
“Somebody from (U.S. senator Rob) Portman’s office, somebody from (U.S. Senator Sherrod) Brown’s office, somebody from (State Representative) Terry Johnson’s office, and a couple of the other ones, will be here,” Rogers said. “I want get them to sit down so I can talk to them and try to find out why the state and the federal government continues to fund this drug problem here in Adams County without any restrictions on the flow of the cash that has been given to these people.”
Rogers said Adams County is currently experiencing an influx of heroin.
“It’s due to the fact that now is tax time where people lie to get this earned income credit,” Rogers said. “It’s where all of these drug addicts lie on the IRS forms and get $3,000 or $4,000, and then they run around and get heroin with it.”
Rogers said the same people are selling their food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar to buy heroin.
“They get fuel oil vouchers and they sell it out of their tanks for a dollar a gallon,” Rogers said. “Obviously they’re still selling the pills that they get that are bought and paid for by Medicaid. They’re taking the money from Pell Grants. They fill out these Pell Grants. They get these checks for student loan money. They use that money.”
Rogers said the burden to fight the crimes created by the misuse of those dollars falls on the local authorities.
“We’re sitting down here with a handful of deputies trying to monitor IRS, food stamps, fuel oil vouchers, Pell Grants,” Rogers said. “The state and federal government are expecting these little counties to handle a problem they can’t deal with as long as the state and federal government continues to fund it.”
Rogers said he isn’t implying that the government entities are subsidising the crimes intentionally.
“Here’s an example that I don’t understand,” Rogers said. “If you are a drug dealer in government housing, or if you’re on SSI disability in government housing, the whole time you’re out there committing crimes, the government, the state or somebody is sending you a check to eat, or sending you cash or giving you a place to live.”
Rogers said when his deputies arrest those people and put them in the jail, the government shuts all funding off, leaving the citizens of Adams County to foot the bill.
“My thinking is, if you’re going to fund them, and pay HUD housing to keep them out there while they’re selling drugs, why not pay the Adams County Jail to keep them while we stop them from selling drugs?” Rogers said.
Rogers said he will meet with the representatives Thursday at 2 p.m. in his office.
“Those are some of the questions I’m going to ask them,” Rogers said. “I’m going to ask them for yes or no answers - should this be going on or should it not?”
Rogers said he has a deputy who spends three days a week dealing only with food stamp fraud, and he can’t continue to deal with the myriad of issues that he has to with his limited staff.
“The first month we arrested 16 people and shut a store down,” Rogers said.
Rogers said his county isn’t alone in the battle.
“We don’t have it any worse than anyone else. The same is going on in Portsmouth, I guarantee it,” Rogers said. “When you go up around those government apartments in Portsmouth, I guarantee you people up there are filling out IRS forms falsely, and are getting earned income credit. Not all of them, but I guarantee there are people in Portsmouth doing that.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.