Director of Smith County prisoner rehab program responds to allegations of food stamp benefit theft

Denise Walker
Denise Walker(Smith County Jail)
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 12:14 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2022 at 12:25 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with new video including an on-camera interview with Walker and a rehab program resident.

A director and pastor of a prisoner rehab program in Smith County has been charged with using a resident’s food stamp card without his permission.

Denise Rene Walker, 65, of Tyler, is charged with unlawful use of food stamp benefits. She was arrested on March 24 and posted a $25,000 bond the same day.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Walker said she was reported by a resident who had been kicked out of the program. She said the resident was bitter and made false accusations against her.

“That’s a lie,” Walker said.

Walker said some residents at A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries provide their food stamp cards to her so she can shop for their groceries.

According to an arrest affidavit, investigators interviewed other residents of the ministry. The affidavit states some residents said Walker took their wallets and identifying information, prescription medications and cell phones and prevented them from using mail. They also said Walker would make them wash vehicles, landscape and work at a warehouse doing various jobs for no compensation. They said Walker would be paid for their services but they would not be compensated for labor.

In her interview Tuesday, Walker said there are a few residents who are disgruntled against her, but many more will come forward to speak on her behalf. She said she explained her side of story to the investigators with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, but they still arrested her.

According to the affidavit, records at Sam’s Club in Tyler showed Walker had used 45 different EBT cards for approximately $19,000 worth of transactions in conjunction with the A.D.D.I.C.T. Sam’s Club membership.

Walker said parolees in her program are not allowed to interact with her now that she has been arrested and have had to move out of the residence. She had 10 parolees living at the residence.

According to its website, “A.D.D.I.C.T. Ministries is a prison-and-drug recovery program. This ministry is dedicated to assisting those lost in society and bound by drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors that inhibit their return to loving families, jobs, and becoming useful members of society.”

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