Man arrested for selling food stamp card on Facebook

A Middletown man trying to sell his girlfriend’s food stamp card on Facebook now faces a felony charge.

Police said Derron Chamberlain posted on the social media site that he was selling his girlfriend’s food stamp card for $100. He also included his phone number for potential buyers to contact him, police said.

“He did put his real information while he was doing this illegal act for everybody to see,” said Middletown Police Lt. Scott Reeve.

Chamberlain, 35, of Plymouth Avenue, was excited, police said, when officers from the police department’s Special Operations Unit contacted him acting as potential buyers.

“He kept calling back to the detectives to a point where they thought it was humorous how much he was calling back trying to make a deal happen,” Reeve said.

About six hours after detectives called Chamberlain, they met him at Goldman Park, 1400 Highland St.

Police said Chamberlain did not resist arrest and is charged with trafficking food stamps, a fifth-degree felony.

“He didn’t realize he had done anything wrong,” Reeve said. “Even when they brought him into the police department and talked to him he was still surprised to find out it was illegal for him to sell his girlfriend’s food stamp card.”

About $6.6 million is distributed monthly in Butler County via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

While benefits fraud is not a new crime, the lingering dismal economy and drug abuse, particularly heroin, has turned it into an epidemic, Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones told the Journal-News in January. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said that food stamp fraud totals $750 million each year.

An investigation launched from suspicion that Butler County's skyrocketing food assistance dollars may be attributed in part to fraud, abuse and misuse has resulted in the arrest of hundreds and a taxpayer savings of $5.2 million since July 2012, the Journal-News reported earlier this year.

The operation, manned by two Butler County sheriff’s detectives with help of state and federal agencies including the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, netted 116 violators between July 2012 and June 2013 and 100 from July to December 2013.

According to court records, Chamberlain has been arrested at least 19 times, some of the charges include attempted menacing by stalking, possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct.

Chamberlain is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Sept. 17 in Middletown Municipal Court for arraignment on the felony charge.

Staff Writer Lauren Pack contributed to this story.

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