May 17 2014 12:00 AM

State Police investigated allegations of Bridge Card abuse by Lansing Police


This story was updated on May 17 to include a statement from Police Chief Mike Yankowski.

FRIDAY, MAY 16 — The Michigan State Police conducted an investigation into allegations that members of the Lansing Police Department Special Operations Unit misused Bridge cards provided by federal and state authorities with which to conduct investigations into the fraudulent use of the debit card-style food stamp program.

A television station in Kalamazoo, WWMT, first reported on the investigation Thursday. The investigation was completed in February and referred to the Attorney General’s Office for review. The AG’s office declined to issue charges. In the WWMT report, the AG’s office said no charges were brought for lack of evidence. The AG’s office also told the station, “We are not going to be prosecuting cops for eating Twinkies after work.”

Meanwhile, Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski said on Friday the department is conducting its own investigation into the allegations.

"Our goal is to complete the investigation within the next 90 days," Yankowski said. "This is a very complex case that spanned from 2011-2013. However, the investigation will take as long as needed to ensure that we conduct a thorough and complete investigation." 

A Michigan State Police spokesperson confirmed with City Pulse Friday that the agency had conducted the investigation. City Pulse is attempting to obtain a copy of the police report generated by Michigan State Police officials. The news report says the department was issued six of the cards to investigate abuse by those who are receiving the assistance program.

The cards, which replaced food stamps some years ago, can only be used to buy specific grocery items. They are funded through the U.S. Agriculture Department through a program called the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Officers are accused of using the Bridge Cards to purchase food that was then distributed to employees of the department and used at personal parties, the television reported. A search by MSP of LPD facilities, the state reported, did not turn up products that were supposedly purchased by the department and should be held as evidence.

The department was also unable to provide receipts for the products purchased.