Seven women in South Carolina have pleaded guilty to receiving food stamps as part of a $5 million food stamp fraud scheme in which they defrauded the people of more than $20,000 at a Rock Hill store.
The seven women who pleaded guilty for fraud are;
- Jatonica Williams, 31, $5,238
- Dequitta White, 31, $3,070
- Labrecia White, 24, $2,962
- Shenisa Davis, 36, $2,549
- Victoria Sanders, 25, $2,234
- Kimberly Johnson, 28, $2,195
- Brooke Rogers, 27, $2,134
Ms. Johnson pleaded guilty alone while the other six women pleaded guilty in groups of three. They all got 30-day suspended sentences and two years probation, but can have that dismissed if they repay the money by the end of the year.
The Charlotte Observer reports:
Now the store owners face prison and potentially paying back as much as $5 million, said Mark McKinnon, 16th Circuit assistant public defender who represented three of the women who pleaded guilty Thursday.
The store owners potentially will get reduced sentences for their agreement to testify against the food stamp recipients who received illegal cash and goods.
However, those three store owners were not in court Thursday in York and will not be sentenced in federal court until their work as cooperating witnesses is finished.
The food stamp scam among the store owners and dozens of store customers went on from March 2014 to 2016, Jones said in court Thursday.
Jones, who prosecutes food stamp cases statewide, said the store owners were “trafficking” food stamps and exchanging benefits for cash, while the food stamp recipients caught by investigators repeatedly used food stamps for illegal purchases and cash back.
The scheme involved buying hot food, a single beer, cigarettes, or gasoline with a food stamps debit card and getting cash back.
The scam was uncovered last year at the Daily Express mart in Rock Hill. The owners of the store, Li Fang Phu, Hoang Nguyen and Dianne Phu, all of Rock Hill, pleaded guilty in federal court last year to a scheme prosecutors said had been going on for years.
A food stamp fraud scam conviction of more than $10,000 carries a sentence of 10 years in prison, five years for $2,000 to $10,000, or 30 days in jail for less than $2,000.
See what happens when the government gives away other people’s money? It just makes people more and more greedy for what isn’t their’s in the first place.
Fraud is nothing new, especially food stamp fraud.
Back in May, a Baltimore man was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay back $3.7 million to the central government for illegally trafficking food stamps.
More than $20 million worth of food stamps fraud was discovered by investigators at Southwest Florida retailers and 140 Chicago retailers were also busted for food stamp fraud.