School board member Nakima Redmon’s mother was arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing food stamp benefits from five low-income families. Her mother, Carol Austin, 61, who works as a clerk at the Passaic County Board of Social Services, is accused of unauthorized use of five Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, according to authorities.
“I’m not talking to you,” remarked Redmon on Monday night, when asked about her relation to Austin (pictured), after a special meeting of the Board of Education at the Paterson Public Schools headquarters. Since the Friday charges, there have been whispers within some local circles about the arrest.
Redmon and Austin have different last names. Some local leaders could not identify the mother based on her name; however, several African-American community leaders were able to identify Austin as Redmon’s mother when shown the mugshot. One local leader, who did not wish to be identified, said, “We always knew her has Mrs. Redmon.” Another local leader said Redmon introduced Austin as her mother at a political event two years ago.
Austin was involved in Redmon’s campaign when she successfully ran for a school board seat. Both the mother and daughter work at the Passaic County Board of Social Services. Austin’s salary is $69,916 at the county job. She has worked as a clerk at the county social services since 1985, according to state government records.
Keith Furlong, spokesman for the Passaic County government, said disciplinary procedures have been initiated against Austin which include immediate suspension without pay. The daughter also works for the county government.
Redmon, a social worker, has been working at the social services since 2002. She makes $90,916, according to government records. She has served on several boards in Paterson including the Paterson Historic Preservation Commission before winning a seat on the Board of Education in 2015.
Authorities said Austin has been charged with second-degree impersonation and theft of identity, third-degree theft by deception, and fourth-degree unauthorized use of food stamp coupons. She is accused of using the five cards to utilize more than $500 for herself from November 2015 to February 2017.
The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Inspector General for the United States Department of Agriculture conducted the investigation that led to charges against Austin. The food stamp program is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Authorities said the investigation into Austin’s case remains “ongoing.” Anyone with information is asked to contact the prosecutor’s office at 1-877-370-PCPO or firstname.lastname@example.org.