City of Dothan employee fired amid feeding scandal, arrests possible

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 8:39 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - City of Dothan’s Leisure Services is the target of a criminal investigation into possible corruption within the feeding program it administers.

One of the department’s employees has been terminated in a suspected scam that may have bilked taxpayers out of thousands or more, multiple sources confirmed to WTVY News 4.

Dothan police admit that they are looking into the matter but declined to elaborate.

Stephanie Wingfield, who administered the feeding program to provide nutritious meals to needy children, was fired last month.

There are suspicions that meals were given to those not qualified to receive them or thrown into the trash but listed as served.

Investigations into feeding programs in other U.S. cities have revealed that the government paid for meals that were never prepared.

The City of Dothan is reimbursed costs of each meal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through a state agency based on submitted documents.

Leisure Services Director Alison Hall testified at Wingfield’s personnel hearing on Wednesday that an internal investigation revealed Wingfield falsified paperwork.

That probe began when the owner of Mama T’s, a Dothan restaurant, wrote a letter to city officials expressing concern that Wingfield had rigged the bid process that determined who would provide meals for the feeding program, she said.

Ultimately, that contract went to competitor Breakfast at Tammie’s.

The Dothan Personnel Board listened to three hours of convoluted testimony regarding Wingfield’s professional conduct.

No mention was made of the criminal investigation and Wingfield has not been publicly implicated of criminal wrongdoing.

Her attorney claims she has done nothing wrong and is a scapegoat for others involved in program.

“Ms. Wingfield has conducted herself with integrity,” attorney Richard A. Rice said of her 23-year career with the city. “She cared about the children she served and the allegations against her were determined to be unfounded.”

Hall, who signed off on her paperwork, stands by the allegations that Wingfield falsified paperwork.

Personnel Board Chairman Tim Shirley said the matter will be reviewed before a decision is made on whether to put Wingfield back to work.

The city of Dothan issued a statement Wednesday on Wingfield’s personnel matter but did not mention the criminal investigation.

Spokesman Vincent Vincent told News 4 in an email that the feeding program has been scaled back.

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