Sara DiNatale
Retail and Tourism Reporter
www.tampabay.com

BRANDON — Dale Inman tried to run.

It didn’t matter that a Hillsborough County detective flashed his badge, Inman wasn’t stopping.

He abandoned the generator and power washer he had just stolen and tore out of the Home Depot on E. Adamo Drive. He made it through the special exit for contractors and into the parking lot, where his partner waited in a getaway car.

But detective Philip Merkle wasn’t alone. Officers who’d been hiding in unmarked cars shouted: “Stop! Sheriff’s Office.” Surrounded, Inman eased to the pavement.

His arms began to flail before deputies could cuff him. His body shook and seized.

“What’s wrong?” Merkle called down.

Inman couldn’t answer.

Minutes later, after his body calmed, Inman told deputies and medics he had a seizure disorder and hadn’t been taking his medications. He said he was addicted to heroin.

Ripping off hardware stores was his full-time job.

Kyle Walters watched the parking lot chaos from inside his Dodge Challenger that evening in April 2018. He waited for Inman to shuffle into a Sheriff’s Office cruiser before pulling out of the lot. He probably thought he went unseen.

But days later, Walters and dozens of others would be in custody.

Local detectives and state prosecutors say the men were part of an organized ring, one that took months to bring down. Hillsborough County deputies identified suspected boosters, like Inman, and fencers, like Walters, and tied them to a network that brazenly ripped off power tools, then sold them on the black market. Thieves were lured into the business — for heroin, meth or cash — to feed their addictions.

In just under a year, the Sheriff’s Office said, the ring hit four Home Depots in eastern Hillsborough repeatedly, walking away with merchandise worth $2.4 million.

Big-box retailers know people will steal. They build losses into their annual budgets, accounting for employee error, fraudulent returns and shoplifters.

Stores pass on that “shrinkage” to shoppers — a 2015 survey by merchandise security company Checkpoint Systems, Inc. found U.S. households could be footing up to $615 a year to help retailers recover from theft.

Organized retail crime cost retailers $777,877 for every $1 billion in sales during 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s up from around $450,000 in 2015.

In Florida, state and local governments lose up to $1.6 billion in taxes per year to stolen goods, according to estimates. Some of the top organized retail theft hubs in the country are in the Sunshine State.

Scott Shalley, the CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, knows the image most shoppers have of retail theft: teens swiping iPhones or parents stealing baby clothes. Those types of offenses are not what retailers say is squeezing bottom lines.

“It’s very dangerous in the long run to write this off just as shoplifting, because it’s much more than that,” Shalley said.

Maj. Darrin Barlow with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says the most successful boosters work in pairs. One might discreetly move a toolbox out of view of security cameras and start filling it with saw blades and cordless drills. The other will enter the store with the same model tool box, as if to check if an accessory will fit.

Then, they’ll make the swap. The full tool box will head out the door, the empty one left in its place.

Not every theft is an orchestrated effort. Some boosters act solo, pile tools into the cart and walk right out the door. Sometimes, they’ll flash a fake receipt.

Their hope? Law enforcement won’t care enough to track them down.

When Det. Todd Schrock first went undercover in 2017, he met the lawnmower man.

Duane Guthrie had been hit by a truck decades earlier. The accident mangled his body and left his eyesight impaired enough that he could not get a driver’s license, so Guthrie only met buyers in two places: his Valrico home or the Wawa less than a half-mile away. He rode to the gas station on an old Dixie Chopper, with the yellow DeWalt or red Milwaukee boxes in his lap.

Guthrie told buyers he was a DeWalt vendor who bought in batches.

But DeWalt had never heard of Guthrie, detectives learned, and there was only one approved wholesaler in Tampa Bay. That business didn’t carry power tools.

Yet, in the coming months, every online seller investigators came across would use the same storyline to explain the low prices.

Schrock and other detectives on the case work in District V, a jurisdiction that begins where Tampa police’s ends. It sprawls to cover most of Brandon and communities like Bloomingdale, Palm River-Clair Mel and Progress Village.

Barlow said the district, launched in May 2017, has a high concentration of retailers: the Westfield Brandon Mall, Walmarts, Lowe’s and Targets — and two Home Depots. The connection to the drug trade gave deputies more reason to investigate.

By the start of 2018, Guthrie had more competition online and a protege: Kyle Walters. Walters used the screen name “Tools 4 the Trade!” Guthrie adopted “Overstocked Tools.”

Every day, they sent hundreds of messages, trying to bargain with buyers and set up meetings.

That February, the detectives got a tip about another seller, one who called himself “Amazon.”

The tipster said Amazon drove his girlfriend’s silver Honda, bought large amounts of tools from heroin addicts and sent them lists of what to steal next.

A successful fence retains anonymity. It’s why the men liked website platforms that didn’t require their real names, why they seldom stole tools themselves. It’s also why detectives knew the only way to break up the ring was by going undercover, posing as buyers and sellers.

Amazon’s real name was Aaron Orr. He made deals from a lawn chair in his front yard or in the parking lot of a nearby Family Dollar.

Each man handled his own sales. They worked together while still competitors, according to detectives — almost like a series of franchisees under the same brand.

***

Barlow said his deputies noticed the tool theft issue within days working in the new squad.

The dealers know that a cart of tools is more lucrative than a cart of razor blades, which are perennially lifted and sold at flea markets or overseas. The growth of the online marketplace has made it easy to sell big-ticket items outside of pawn shops, which require customers to leave behind their fingerprints.

And a truck full of stolen tools is not going to warrant the same charges as a glove box full of methamphetamines.

Det. Schrock told the fences his name was Scott and he sneaked out items through a hole in the fence of the garden department. Another detective claimed to be good at finding unmanned exits.

By the end of March, Schrock was in regular contact with Guthrie and Amazon, who scribbled a list of two dozen items and what he would pay on a loose-leaf sheet of paper.

“I like to keep things professional,” he’d later tell detectives.

Meanwhile, Inman would sell his boosts to whomever was offering the best price. Usually that meant Walters.

In April, Inman passed out in his car at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino. Tampa police knocked on his window and saw a needle and heroin in plain view. He was arrested on possession charges, but he didn’t stay in jail long.

Walters’ wife, LaTasha, secured Inman’s bail through a bondsman.

Just over a week later, Walters and Inman were in that Home Depot parking lot plotting the next heist.

Inman went back to jail that day after medics cleared his seizure. This time, his bail was revoked.

***

The day before the Sheriff’s Office raids, Guthrie sat on OfferUp, an online sales platform, past 3 a.m. He mocked a buyer trying to lower the price on a welding machine worth $4,000.

That morning, around 8, he woke up to deputies at his door.

They impounded a stolen boat and a Charles Chips can stuffed with more than $5,000. At another fencer’s house, they found a scale with glass and metal pipes on a nightstand. And in a drawer, nearly $13,000 sat in rolls.

By 10:15 a.m., deputies were in east Tampa at the home Amazon shared with his mother.

“I got greedy,” he told Det. Schrock.

Inside, they found five pounds of marijuana. Among the boxes of tools were three different ledgers he’d used to track sales.

When deputies arrived at Kyle Walters’ home in Ruskin that morning, he wasn’t there.

His wife had kicked him out the night before.

He was always out trying to hustle deals, she told detectives as deputies combed through her home.

Walters was in his car when he saw the scene at his home. A deputy noticed the Ohio State Buckeyes sticker on the back window as Walters tried to turn around and pull away.

Deputies found pills and a baggie with powder residue in his pockets. In the house, they found more pills, without prescriptions, and a digital scale.

He was taken to his home briefly, then to a holding cell. Each fencer was held in a secluded room, unaware the Sheriff’s Office arrested them all in one morning.

Most of the men didn’t say much. But Walters? He couldn’t stop talking.

***

Walters said he’d left Ohio for a fresh start in Florida. He’d been busted selling drugs up north.

At first, he sold liquidated and discontinued tools online, trying to run an honest business. But sales tapered as more new tools at lower prices showed up online.

He had a wife and children to support and was desperate to make more money. Guthrie showed him how.

Walters sat in the cramped interview room, slowly rambling. He held his face in his cuffed hands. His eyes were bloodshot. He hadn’t slept since fighting with his wife the previous night.

Det. Ronald Corr was nearly two hours into his questions before Walters understood he wasn’t facing shoplifting charges. He’d be charged with multiple felonies.

He shook his head. He cried and rocked.

“I can’t believe I just ruined my (expletive) family,” he said.

Corr asked him what he thought would happen — if he thought cooperating with detectives now meant he’d somehow get off the hook.

”Kyle, there are four people on the top of the food chain,” Corr said. “You’re one of them.”

It was never supposed to get this big, he said. He never hurt anyone. It was “victimless crime.” And why weren’t the boosters facing the same, serious charges, he asked.

“If you guys don’t get them then, they’re just going to keep doing it,” he told Corr.

“We are arresting them,” the detective said. “But you look at it this way, if we take away the outlet, maybe they’ll move on.”

Walters barely let Corr finish the sentence.

“They’ll find a new person.”

Ultimately, deputies arrested 34 people, mostly boosters.

But the first-degree felony charges each fencer faced were elevated months later by Florida's statewide prosecutor. Part of the Attorney General’s Office, the statewide prosecutor focuses on crimes that cross county lines, usually racketeering cases.

The state law mirrors the federal law and covers a wide range of criminal activity.

It also carries up to 30 years in state prison.

Walters, Orr and Guthrie face multiple felony charges. Inman recently got out of jail on probation after agreeing to testify.

No trial date has been set.

Since 2015, the statewide prosecutor has begun racketeering cases against 327 people. Roughly two thirds of those are tied to shoplifting rings.

The previous state attorney general made organized retail theft rings a priority, and that’s something Ashley Moody has continued, a spokeswoman said. The statewide prosecutor’s office declined to comment further because the case is ongoing.

None of the men charged as part of the Hillsborough Home Depot investigation responded to requests for an interview.

Walters’ attorney, Bryant Camareno, called the charges “overkill.”

Camareno said the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, more commonly known as RICO, was originally meant to target mob leaders, “The Untouchables.”

Walters was the first person in 20 years to contact him about organized crime charges related to retail theft.

“My client is no Al Capone,” he said. “It’s not like he made millions.”

***

The Hillsborough case isn’t an outlier for Home Depot.

Scott Glenn, the company’s vice president of asset protection, said another ring recently stole close to $20 million in tools.

Home Depot has its own set of investigators to monitor retail crime.

The company worked closely with Hillsborough County detectives, giving them access to run stings in its stores.

Glenn said some law enforcement agencies are too understaffed to take on retail crime. Some simply don’t view it as a priority.

“Businesses can’t afford to lose product like this,” Glenn said.

He has seen other retailers close stores that became steady targets for organized shoplifting.

In the last two decades, 37 states have raised the threshold for felony shoplifting to keep pace with inflation. Some have gone as high as $2,500.

Higher thresholds can serve to deter prosecutions, said Robert Moraca, a former detective and vice president of loss prevention with the National Retail Federation. Career criminals avoid serious charges by stealing below certain amounts, racking up misdemeanors instead, he said.

Retailers sometimes won’t even get police response to a shoplifting complaint if the amount is too low, he said.

Florida had one of the lowest felony thresholds in the country at $300 until the most recent session, when it passed a bill to increase it to $750. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law on June 28.

Florida’s update includes a provision that targets organized rings. Prosecutors are now allowed to aggregate items stolen over a 90-day period if the thefts occur in more than one county. Previously, it was only 48 hours.

“A person stealing $600 doesn’t mean a lot to me,” Glenn said. “One person stealing $600 ten times means a lot to me. Those are the people who actually put a hurt on us.”

About five years ago, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd created the first organized retail crime unit in the state. His investigators will take on any case in Florida with a tie to Polk County, which isn’t hard to do. Boosters spread out their targets.

“They’re organized enough where they will say: We will hit Polk today and will come back to Pinellas and Hillsborough and Pasco tomorrow,” he said. “They want to give them time to restock and not create a pattern of activity.”

Judd’s unit recently busted a ring, based out of Tampa, whose leaders were shipping stolen goods to Cuba.

That, too, is being tried by the state prosecutor’s office as a racketeering case.

“Quite frankly, that is our end game,” Judd said. “As long as you’re just arresting people at the front end, you’re not getting to the core of the problem.”

***

In District V, detectives hoped after last year’s bust, they’d see the trend start to taper.

Thefts are down so far this year, about 8.5 percent. But Maj. Barlow said there is still time for the numbers to move up, to the nearly 1,000 theft arrests they made last year.

“There are new players in the game,” Barlow said. “It’s prevalent.”

One day this summer, Det. Schrock sat in front of a Home Depot computer that showed every security camera’s view in the Riverview store.

Home Depot employees spotted a man in a blue shirt they recognized walk through the front door.

Schrock focused on aisle 12, full of power tools. His fingers moved fast on the keyboard, jumping from frame to frame, following as the man picked up a DeWalt drill kit priced at $299. “He’s past aisle 13, 14,” Schrock said to deputies outside. “He’s heading toward garden. Past aisle 58, 60.”

The man walked steadily past a cashier, who asked for a receipt. The man flashed a fake one and rushed out.

“He did not pay for that,” Schrock called into his phone. “You can arrest him.”

Moments later, undercover officers with guns drawn took the man into custody in the middle of the parking lot.

He had a partner, too, waiting in a beat-up Chrysler.

Inside the car, investigators found a baggie that tested positive for meth, along with an empty Milwaukee drill box.

Deputies ran the car’s plate. It didn’t belong to either man.

“This car belongs to Jennifer Cartwright,” one deputy called out.

The others chuckled. They knew Cartwright well. She’d been arrested at that very store.

She was one of Kyle Walters’ regular boosters.

About this story
For this project, Tampa Bay Times staff writer Sara DiNatale reviewed hundreds of pages of police reports, court documents and search warrants, as well as more than 6,000 messages sent over the OfferUp app.

Quotes from the men accused of running the tool ring are taken from investigative reports or recorded interviews with detectives. Records were obtained through public records requests.

The Times conducted more than a dozen interviews with law enforcement, Home Depot personnel and retail or security experts.

The accused
Dale Inman, 37, of Brandon pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony for violating the RICO statute and a third-degree felony for fraud. He made a plea arrangement with prosecutors and was released from jail on his own recognizance in April.

Kyle Walters, 38, of Ruskin faces four first-degree felony charges, which include counts of RICO violations and dealing in stolen property. He also faces three second-degree felony charges for dealing in stolen property and three third-degree felony charges for fraud and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. He is being held without bail.

Duane Guthrie, 47, of Valrico faces the same four first-degree felony charges as Walters. He also has been charged with two counts of dealing in stolen property, a second-degree felony, and three third-degree felonies for fraud and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. He is out on bail.

Aaron “Amazon” Orr, 35, of Tampa faces 12 felony charges similar to those against Walters and Guthrie. He is out on bail.

Joshua Burr, 32, of Tampa also was a fencer, according to police, and faces the same breadth of felony charges. Police said he had the largest number of stolen tools. He is out on bail.

Thursday, 05 September 2019 10:09

Business Damage Assessment Survey

Economic assistance for private sector businesses may be available based on the magnitude of the disaster and overall economic impact to the community. FRF’s partners at the Florida Dept of Economic Opportunity and the Division of Emergency Management are encouraging businesses to complete the online Business Damage Assessment Survey. This information will provide valuable economic impact information to the state and federal government as economic assistance options are evaluated. If you have any questions about this survey or with other forms of economic assistance offered by the state following a natural disaster, please contact 850.815.4925 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please see below – the additions include Counties of Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns and curfews for the counties of Duval (limited to beaches), Volusia and Osceola. Please keep in mind this information will continue to be updated as the orders are issued by counties.

Evacuation Orders

Brevard County - Mandatory
Brevard County Issues Mandatory Evacuation Order Ahead of #Dorian The following residents should START evacuating on Monday, September 2 at 8 a.m.: -those who live on the barrier islands, including areas from Kennedy Space Center south to the south beaches, and Merritt Island, -those in mobile homes or manufactured housing, -those in low-lying, flood-prone areas, -those with special medical needs such as electrical dependence. To determine whether an address is located in an evacuation zone, visit https://bit.ly/2wKvjq0 to plug in the address at the search engine in the upper left hand corner. Shelter details are still being finalized, and will be announced later. Public shelters will be made available for general population, families wishing to bring their pets, and those with special medical needs.

Duval County - Mandatory
Mandatory Evacuations for Zones A and B, as well as Huguenot and Hanna parks, effective 8 a.m. Monday, Sept. 2.. Residents who live in Zones A and B should begin to make the necessary arrangements and prepare to leave starting Monday, Sept. 2.

Glades County - Voluntary/Phased
Voluntary evacuations are being ordered starting at 5pm tonight (08/30/2019) for all low lying areas, mobile home parks and RV parks for the following communities: Moore haven, Palmdale, Lakeport, Washington Park, Buckhead Ridge and Uncle Joe Fish Camp.

Hendry County - Voluntary/Phased
(August 30, 2019) – LaBelle, Fla. – Voluntarily evacuation for residents who live in low-lying, flood prone areas as well as residents who live in RV’s or mobile homes to a safer structure. Residents are encouraged to evacuate tens of miles away from current location to secure homes of family member or friends no later than Saturday evening. Hendry County will open shelters to the public beginning at 4pm on Saturday, August 31. Residents who live on the eastern side of Hendry County who need to evacuate are encouraged to evacuate to shelters in LaBelle.

Highlands County - Voluntary
Citizens who reside in low lying areas, mobile homes and RV’s are advised to take necessary precautions in preparation of high winds and rain over the next few days.

Indian River County - Mandatory
Voluntary evacuations for the barrier islands, east of US 1, manufactured homes, and substandard homes.

Martin County - Mandatory
Mandatory evacuations of Zones A-B will go into affect at 1300 today. This includes Hutchinson Island, Jupiter Island, Sewall's Point, low lying areas, and mobile and manufactured homes.

Nassau County - Mandatory
09/02/2019 Nassau County Emergency Management will begin mandatory evacuation from Zones A, C and F beginning at 8am this morning.

Okeechobee County - Voluntary/Phased
A voluntary evacuation order, effective on today, Sunday, September 1, 2019, has been issued for residents living in RVs, mobile homes and low lying areas, and those areas prone to flooding.

Osceola County - Voluntary/Phased
Osceola County issued a voluntary evacuation for low lying areas and manufactured and mobile homes to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

Palm Beach County - Mandatory
Starting 1pm Today (9/1/2019) Mandatory evacuation order for those who live in Zone A and Zone B. Zone A includes mobile homes, sub-standard housing and low-lying areas prone to water intrusion. Zone B includes the barrier islands, land areas north and south of the Jupiter Inlet, and other surge-vulnerable areas south along the Intracoastal Waterway to the Broward County line.

Putnam County - Mandatory

St. Johns County - Mandatory
St. Johns County has issued mandatory evacuation orders effective for 8 a.m. on Monday, September 2 for Evacuation Zones A and B, which includes the entire City of St. Augustine, the City of St. Augustine Beach, and those living on waterfront property or in flood-prone areas. In addition, the County has ordered evacuations for Hastings and Flagler Estates.

St. Lucie County - Mandatory
St. Lucie county has issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents on the barrier island (North and South Hutchinson Island), those living in low-lying coastal areas and mobile homes. That order will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday (9/1/2019).

Volusia County - Mandatory
Volusia County officials will issue a mandatory evacuation order at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 2, for residents who live on the beachside and in low-lying areas, RVs and mobile homes. However, residents don’t have to wait until the order is issued. If you have a place to go, it would be best to leave the area today.

Curfews

Duval County - Limited
Curfew is in effect as of 20190902 at Area Beaches municipalities: Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach 2200 - 0600 UFN

Volusia County - Full
Curfew is in place Tuesday, September 3, 2019, at 6:00 P.M. through Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 6:00 A.M.

Osceola County - Full
Curfew in place beginning Sept 3 at 11:00pm until further notice. Curfew hours (11pm - 6am)

Sunday, 01 September 2019 18:02

Hurricane Dorian - Evacuation Orders

As we continue to monitor the track of Hurricane Dorian, as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, below is an up-to date list of evacuations. This list will continue to be updated as the orders come in. As always, please contact me with any questions or concerns.

Evacuation Orders

Brevard County - Mandatory
Brevard County Issues Mandatory Evacuation Order Ahead of #Dorian The following residents should START evacuating on Monday, September 2 at 8 a.m.: -those who live on the barrier islands, including areas from Kennedy Space Center south to the south beaches, and Merritt Island, -those in mobile homes or manufactured housing, -those in low-lying, flood-prone areas, -those with special medical needs such as electrical dependence. To determine whether an address is located in an evacuation zone, visit https://bit.ly/2wKvjq0 to plug in the address at the search engine in the upper left hand corner. Shelter details are still being finalized, and will be announced later. Public shelters will be made available for general population, families wishing to bring their pets, and those with special medical needs.

Glades County - Voluntary/Phased
Voluntary evacuations are being ordered starting at 5pm tonight (08/30/2019) for all low lying areas, mobile home parks and RV parks for the following communities: Moore haven, Palmdale, Lakeport, Washington Park, Buckhead Ridge and Uncle Joe Fish Camp.

Hendry County - Voluntary/Phased
(August 30, 2019) – LaBelle, Fla. – Voluntarily evacuation for residents who live in low-lying, flood prone areas as well as residents who live in RV’s or mobile homes to a safer structure. Residents are encouraged to evacuate tens of miles away from current location to secure homes of family member or friends no later than Saturday evening. Hendry County will open shelters to the public beginning at 4pm on Saturday, August 31. Residents who live on the eastern side of Hendry County who need to evacuate are encouraged to evacuate to shelters in LaBelle.

Highlands County - Voluntary/Phased
Citizens who reside in low lying areas, mobile homes and RV’s are advised to take necessary precautions in preparation of high winds and rain over the next few days.

Indian River County - Voluntary/Phased
Voluntary evacuations for the barrier islands, east of US 1, manufactured homes, and substandard homes.

Martin County - Mandatory
Mandatory evacuations of Zones A-B will go into affect at 1300 today. This includes Hutchinson Island, Jupiter Island, Sewall's Point, low lying areas, and mobile and manufactured homes.

Nassau County - Voluntary/Phased

Okeechobee County - Voluntary/Phased
A voluntary evacuation order, effective on today, Sunday, September 1, 2019, has been issued for residents living in RVs, mobile homes and low lying areas, and those areas prone to flooding.

Osceola County - Voluntary/Phased
Osceola County issued a voluntary evacuation for low lying areas and manufactured and mobile homes to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

Palm Beach County - Mandatory
Starting 1pm Today (9/1/2019) Mandatory evacuation order for those who live in Zone A and Zone B. Zone A includes mobile homes, sub-standard housing and low-lying areas prone to water intrusion. Zone B includes the barrier islands, land areas north and south of the Jupiter Inlet, and other surge-vulnerable areas south along the Intracoastal Waterway to the Broward County line.

St. Lucie County - Mandatory
St. Lucie county has issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents on the barrier island (North and South Hutchinson Island), those living in low-lying coastal areas and mobile homes. That order will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday (9/1/2019).

Volusia County - Mandatory
Volusia County officials will issue a mandatory evacuation order at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 2, for residents who live on the beachside and in low-lying areas, RVs and mobile homes. However, residents don’t have to wait until the order is issued. If you have a place to go, it would be best to leave the area today.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – To assist families as they prepare for Hurricane Dorian, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release September food assistance benefits to all 67 counties included in Governor Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-190 declaring a State of Emergency.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers who were scheduled to receive their benefits between September 1 and September 14 will now be able to access benefits through their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards starting August 31 at noon. This is an early release of regular benefits, not a distribution of additional funds.

“I applaud Governor DeSantis and President Trump for their swift action in response to the needs of Florida’s vulnerable children and families preparing for this major hurricane,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “The early release of benefits will allow families to purchase much-needed food prior to Hurricane Dorian’s landfall.”

Immediately following Executive Order 19-190, DCF requested a waiver from the USDA allowing the early release of September SNAP benefits. With the full support of Governor DeSantis and President Donald Trump, the waiver was approved in less than 24 hours.

For updated information, please continue to check the DCF website and social media accounts.

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