Conservative News Sites Use File Photo of Black Woman to Illustrate Food Stamp Theft by Bureaucrat

Several conservative news sites incited racism by irresponsibly using a months-old Reuters file photo of an unidentified heavy-set Black woman shopping at a New Jersey Walmart to illustrate a report about a Missouri government bureaucrat named Pamela O’Dell who was indicted this week on a federal charge of mail fraud involving alleged food stamp theft totaling $52,000.

The Daily Caller was first to use the photo as part of their story headlined: Food Stamps Ripped Off by Walmart-Shopping Bureaucrat

Daily Caller Photo Black Woman Shopping at Walmart Reuters
The photo was captioned: Shoppers look at merchandise at a Walmart store in Secaucus, New Jersey in this November 11, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

Even with the caption included, the Daily Caller’s use of a photo of an anonymous Black woman who has nothing to do with the story to illustrate food stamp theft set off a chain reaction of racially charged comments.

The Daily Caller’s error was compounded by the conservative news blogs Weasel Zippers and Truth Revolt. Both sites used the photo without the caption to illustrate their reports based on the Daily Caller article.

As a result of the bogus use of the file photo, the comment sections at all three sites were filled with racially charged comments against Black women such as:

Daily Caller: “She was just collecting the reparations that she felt she was was entitled to…”

Weasel Zippers: “Time served with minimal recompense. Then some bank will hire her with her glowing reference from the welfare bureau and since it’s now illegal to ask a black about their criminal history.”

Truth Revolt: “Who is surprised by this? Food stamps and black women go together like gasoline in vehicles.. Black women honestly believe food stamps exist just for them, that the government owes them food stamps because of slavery…. No joke…Even if a black woman makes enough income and doesnt need food stamps, they always somehow acquire food stamps. better believe they go out of their way to spend other people’s money. Its disgusting”

The Daily Caller article was based on a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri. No photo of the accused accompanied the press release. (Also, no photo of the accused state worker Pamela O’Dell could be readily found online.) O’Dell’s race was not mentioned in the press release. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office told The Gateway Pundit she did not know the race of O’Dell. O’Dell is scheduled to be arraigned January 12 in Cape Girardeau.

Text of the press release:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Dunklin County Woman Charged in Federal Indictment Alleging Mail Fraud

Cape Girardeau, MO – PAMELA O’DELL was indicted on charges alleging mail fraud involving the misuse of approximately $52,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

According to the indictment, O’Dell was employed as an Eligibility Specialist (ES) by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division (FSD) in Dunklin County, Missouri. In this position, O’Dell was responsible for processing applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program. She was also responsible for updating SNAP recipients’ files with address changes and if their eligibility for the program was terminated. The indictment alleges that between 2009 and 2014, when SNAP applicants and recipients reported to the FSD that they no longer wished to apply for or receive benefits, O’Dell changed their address to the FSD office in Dunklin, which issued a new Electronic Benefits Transfer Card (EBT), using her information. She converted the EBT cards to her personal use to purchase items from stores such as Wal-Mart and Hay’s Grocery in Paragould, Arkansas.

O’Dell, Senath, MO, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Cape Girardeau on one felony count of mail fraud.

If convicted, mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Division of Legal Services and the United States Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General-Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Anthony L. Franks is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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