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Employee admits to stealing from two public agencies

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PORT ALLEN- A former parish employee who had to pay nearly $20,000 of restitution to West Baton Rouge Parish for stealing money is in hot water again.

Araviance Anderson is an employee for the Department of Health and Hospitals now and investigators said she admitted to fraudulently collecting more than $3,100 in food stamps. She was arrested on felony "theft of goods" charges last year.

Tonight, questions are swirling about how she managed to steal from two public agencies.

"She's a thief," West Baton Rouge Parish Colonel Richie Johnson said over the phone.

Even though Anderson no longer works for West Baton Rouge Parish, she still works out of one of the parish's buildings. DHH operates the West Baton Rouge Parish Health Unit and placed Anderson there.

West Baton Rouge Parish President Pee Wee Berthelot said safeguards have been put into place to prevent her from stealing again.

"Those monies are counted in front of three people," Berthelot said. "They all have to sign off on it then the money is deposited and our credit cards, we have one credit card for the whole parish that we keep in a vault."

We went to pull Anderson's records in the West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse, but she apparently had her record expunged after paying the restitution. Those records were not on file with the Clerk of Court.

However, records from her most recent arrest showed Anderson did not list that she was a Department of Health and Hospitals Employee when she continued collecting food stamps.

As people wonder how she's still in a parish building after admitting to stealing according to investigators, parish leaders believe taxpayers money is safe.

"She cannot get to any of the parish money," Berthelot said. "She's not our employee. She has put in some applications for us, but we didn't elect to rehire her."

DHH said it was not aware of this incident, but did say the agency was looking into it.

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