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Assembly leaves Albany without addressing EBT fraud

ALBANY -- In the midst of last minute bill last Friday, the New York State Assembly did not approve a bill to end the currently legal ability of EBT card holders to purchase alcohol and tobacco with taxpayer dollars.

Senate Republicans, earlier in the week, had pushed the bill and later brought it to the floor for vote. It passed the same day.

At the press conference spearheaded by Senator Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, the Southern Tier senator said if the assembly did not take action New York State could lose as much as $125 million in federal funds in 2014 by not becoming compliant with federal law.

Late in the day Tuesday a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the assembly is waiting on the Office of Temporary Assistance and Disability-- the agency who oversees the program-- to determine if they can regulate the matter on their own. If not, then the assembly will take action on the bill, the spokesman said.

Calls to OTDA last week, by CBS6 Capitol Correspondent Pat Bailey, were not returned. However the agency did email a quote that read "we do not comment on pending legislation."

In May, following a four month wait for a freedom of information request, Bailey did a story showing where in the Capital Region the Electronic Benefit Cards, a form of public assistance, were used.

Records showed EBT transactions at just about every bar on Pearl Street and in Center Square. There were also transactions at the OTB on Central Avenue in Albany and at the Shenanigans Gentleman's Club in Schenectady.

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