Welfare recipients take out cash at strip clubs, liquor stores and X-rated shops

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Kate Briquelet @ The New York Post:

They’re on the dole — and watching the pole.

Welfare recipients took out cash at bars, liquor stores, X-rated video shops, hookah parlors and even strip clubs — where they presumably spent their taxpayer money on lap dances rather than diapers, a Post investigation found.

A database of 200 million Electronic Benefit Transfer records from January 2011 to July 2012, obtained by The Post through a Freedom of Information request, showed welfare recipients using their EBT cards to make dozens of cash withdrawals at ATMs inside Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.

The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which oversees the “cash assistance program,” even lists some of these welfare-ready ATMs on its Web site.

One EBT machine is stationed inside Club Eleven, an infamous Hunts Point jiggle joint known as much for its violent history as its girls in pink thongs.

Cops have been cracking down on the Bronx club since 2009 and shut it down temporarily in 2010. In July, five men were stabbed and two others shot outside after bouncers broke up a 4 a.m. brawl with pepper spray. The club appeared to be shuttered when The Post visited Thursday.

Club Heat, another Bronx strip club that dispenses EBT cash, is also no stranger to violence. A 33-year-old woman was fatally shot in the head outside the club in December 2011.

Critics blasted the government for turning a blind eye to welfare’s sleazy money.

“This is morally scandalous,” said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “I have nothing against strip clubs, but that’s not what benefits are for. I don’t blame [recipients]. If you are poor, it’s a crummy life and you want to have a drink or see a naked woman. I blame the people who are in charge of this.”

Welfare recipients receive food stamps and cash assistance under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Both benefits are accessed through an EBT card, but only cash assistance — meant for housing, utilities and household necessities — can be accessed at ATMs.

A single-person household could receive a maximum $200 in monthly food stamps plus $158 in cash assistance. A family of four could get as much as $668 in food stamps and $433 in cash.

The food-stamp program prohibits the purchase of booze, tobacco and lottery tickets with an EBT card. But with the cash-assistance program, users can blow money on strippers or a six-pack and to tap welfare dollars from liquor stores, casinos and adult-oriented establishments.

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Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

3 Responses to “Welfare recipients take out cash at strip clubs, liquor stores and X-rated shops”

  1. 1


    Similar misuse of fruits of the labor of tax payers and those who made income from taking risks occured after Mother Earth flushed New Orleans. I considered taking in one or two people and was immediately schooled by my circle regarding the caliber, or general lack of such, of the people housed in a make shift shelter in my town, far from N.O. The beer joint near by had a boost in customers until the funds ran out. Perhaps and hard hat, glove and bus tokens is a better idea? There was some sayig about teaching a man to fish, not giving him a fish. But then a person capable of working and does not have legal resources and who will not work is not really a man.

  2. 2


    This is nothing new. Remember how FEMA gave cards to Hurricane Katrina victims, and they spent them on stuff like this? Once a welfare recipient receives YOUR money, the government figures it is now THEIR money, and they don’t care what they spend THEIR money on.

  3. 3

    Liberal1 (Objectivity)

    I think that instead of blaming all or most welfare recipients for these indiscretions, we should actually have the numbers of cases of this kind of potential fraud. The only number the article mention is 200,000,000 as the number of instances studied (n)—not the number of those implicate in fraud. The closest it comes to the number implicated is “dozens”.

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