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A state Department of Social Health Services worker from Graham was arrested Tuesday, accused of stealing nearly $3,000 in food stamps from a man who thought his account was closed.

Tammy McElroy, 44, was booked into the Pierce County Jail for felony unlawful redemption of food stamps. DSHS said she used the former client's EBT card for nearly two years after he requested to close it.

The former client, a man from Gig Harbor who did not want to be identified, said I'm happy she's now in jail.

According to DSHS, he turned in his EBTcard in September 2010 and asked to be taken off basic food assistance. But on April 25, after updating his address, he discovered the account was still active.

Using receipts and store surveillance tapes, DSHSidentified McElroy using the EBTcard. They estimate she spent $3,225 in food stamps.

McElroy works as a Financial Services Specialist and has been with DSHSsince 1998.

Neighbors who live near the McElroy's Graham home had different reactions to the arrest. One said she was surprised to hear of the arrest, but another said he was only surprised it took so long to arrest her.

People work very, very hard in their jobs to get assistance to those in need and I don't want this to reflect on the thousands of honest workers who believe in what they do and go the extra mile to get help for children and families, DSHS Office of Fraud and Accountability Senior Director Steve Lowe said in a statement.

Information compiled by KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen and Lindsay Chamberlain

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