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      Audit questions use of some Missouri welfare benefits

      A new audit questions whether hundreds of Missouri welfare recipients are living out of state or using benefits for alcohol, tobacco and gambling. The report released Tuesday by State Auditor Tom Schweich looks at about $96 million of benefits paid through electronic cards in 2012 for a program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The audit found 366 cases in which recipients used a total of $461,000 of benefits exclusively out of state for at least three months. Although nothing prohibits out of state use, the report says that may indicate the welfare recipients no longer live in Missouri. The audit also found about 1,600 cases in which $261,000 of benefits were used at locations appearing to be associated with alcohol, tobacco, gambling or adult entertainment.