Alleged welfare scam with ties to the Fresno State football team
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno County social services employee has been arrested for welfare fraud and an Action News investigation has revealed a troubling connection to the Fresno State Bulldog football team.
Michael Martin was arrested August 12th on several felony charges including embezzling thousands of dollars. Some of the accusations stem from him signing off on welfare benefits to two dozen members of the 2010 Fresno State football team.
Michael Martin did not answer the door Friday at his Central Fresno apartment. He didn't open the door Thursday either. On both visits we found his black Mercedes sitting in his carport. It is registered to Martin and listed in a search warrant as his primary car.
According to an "order for disciplinary action" document obtained by Action News, Martin is accused of falsifying case records, embezzling CalFresh or food stamp benefits for personal use and processing benefits for family members and neighbors. He's also accused of giving two dozen Bulldog football players benefits they weren't eligible to receive.
We asked Fresno State about the allegations and the school issued this statement.
"Fresno State Athletics is aware that there is presently an ongoing investigation into the misuse of the application process of the California Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program formerly known as the food stamp program. Student-athletes were among the individuals that received benefits from this process, perhaps improperly.
Per our policy, the Fresno State Department of Athletics' staff and student-athletes will cooperate fully with all investigative authorities."
The statement goes on to say, the athletic department's code of conduct was violated and punitive actions have been levied upon a number of current student-athletes.
Fresno State says it has reviewed the case with officials at the Western Athletic Conference and the NCAA. The school does not believe there have been NCAA violations. NCAA officials did not return phone calls Friday to Action News.
Bulldog head coach Pat Hill did not address the investigation in Monday's news conference.
In a document detailing the findings of an investigation by Fresno County officials -- it says Martin issued food stamp benefits to 24 football players on the 2010 CSU Fresno roster and two other collegiate athletes.
The documents allege Martin failed to enter pertinent information into the computer system indicating that all of these athletes were full time students, making them ineligible.
The investigation found a total of $39,267 in CalFresh benefits was issued to these ineligible collegiate athletes.
The names of the players are not listed in the report's findings and it's unclear whether the athletes were aware they did not meet the criteria to get these benefits.
On Friday District Attorney Elizabeth Egan issued a statement confirming her department is investigating Martin, along with his cohabitant, Dawn Griffin for fraud and identity theft.
Martin was arrested at the office where he worked in Central Fresno. He was hired by the county in 2000. Criminal charges have not been filed, but Action News has learned that Martin resigned from his job earlier this week.
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