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Food stamp, WIC fraud leads to conviction

Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 2:01 PM
Last updated 7:49 PM
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A former Atlanta teacher was sentenced Wednesday for her role in a conspiracy to traffic millions in government benefits from the food stamp and WIC programs at 13 storefronts, including one in Augusta.

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Rashella Reed, 41, and two others were convicted of conspiring to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the food stamp program, and the Women, Infant and Children Program. According to a Department of Justice news release, Reed was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. to serve 14 years in prison and three years of supervised release and to pay more than $8 million in restitution.

Sixteen defendants were charged in what authorities called the largest prosecution of its kind in Georgia.

According to the release, the conspirators set up 13 “pretend” grocery stores, which were used as a front to buy more than $8 million in food stamp benefits and WIC vouchers for cash from February 2009 to June 2011.

Authorities said storefronts were in Savannah, Atlanta, Decatur, Macon, Columbus and Augusta.

Reed owned and operated The Baby Spot in Decatur.

An indictment listed the Augusta store as Jack ‘N’ Jill, 2139 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The Augusta store’s CEO, Alvina Markes, pleaded guilty in March 2012 and received nine months in federal prison.

The food stamp and WIC recipients were paid 10 to 60 cents on the dollar for their benefits. The conspirators pocketed the rest.

An April 2012 story in The Augusta Chronicle said the forfeiture claims included cash, plus a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette, a 2003 Ferrari 360 and a 2005 Maserati Quattroporte.

The organization was attempting to expand into Alabama and Tennessee when it was dismantled by federal agents.

“Ms. Reed was college-educated and employed as a teacher,” said Karen Citizen-Wilcox, the special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. “However, she found it necessary to take part in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme that offended the sensibilities of the American taxpayer and deprived needy individuals of nutrition.”

Citizen-Wilcox said the conviction and sentence should be an “eye opener” for anyone who thinks these crimes get only a slap on the hand.

Comments (17)

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KSL
105748
Points
KSL 11/08/13 - 03:38 pm
14
1

Should have been caught

Should have been caught before it hit $8 million.

GodisSoGood
558
Points
GodisSoGood 11/08/13 - 03:56 pm
16
2

I personally know firsthand

I personally know firsthand of a person who received WIC benefits fraudently. When I was pregnant 16 years ago with my first child, this person told me I should apply for WIC. When I politely told her no, that I can take care of my child, her response to me was, "Well, all you got to do is tell them you aren't married, and that you make under $30,000 a year. They won't question it, and you will get approved." First of all, the "all you got to do" was her exact verbiage. Second of all, i was floored that someone openly admitted to committing fraud. Since that day, I find myself doubting every person I ever see use WIC or EBT cards.

geecheeriverman
827
Points
geecheeriverman 11/09/13 - 06:05 am
11
0

The fox is in the henhouse

Any Government program (especially government freebies) are subject to fraud because the Fox is in the Henhouse.

david jennings
511
Points
david jennings 11/09/13 - 06:50 am
6
0

Greed

A Corvette, Farrari and Maserati, wow When they cover you with dirt I guess you leave this junk metal for someone else to cheerish. Talk about lost? Makes me proud that I'm working and when I look at the deductions on my check stub, I know I contributed to someones dreams.

southern2
4212
Points
southern2 11/09/13 - 07:28 am
8
0

To much fraud and abuse to

To much fraud and abuse to let SNAP & WIC continue. There is an enormous abundance of redundant government programs that provide food for the 'poor' and not a pound would be lost by those on public assistance.

Let the Republicans do it. They will get blamed for it anyway.

JRC2024
6955
Points
JRC2024 11/09/13 - 09:12 am
9
0

However, she found it

However, she found it necessary to take part in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme that offended the sensibilities of the American taxpayer and deprived needy individuals of nutrition.”

She did not deprive the needy. They did it to themselves when they sold the stamps or when they went to the grocery store and purchased the food and went out and sold it for less than $.50 on the dollar.

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 11/09/13 - 09:13 am
1
0

USA. Only country where poor & starving are obese.

Unpublished

USA. Only country where poor & starving are obese.

dichotomy
26630
Points
dichotomy 11/09/13 - 09:54 am
7
0

Tip of the iceberg. All

Tip of the iceberg. All federal giveaway programs, to include food stamps, welfare, WIC, Section 8, Medicare, and Social Security disability are probably in the 50% fraud range. Maybe more.

david jennings
511
Points
david jennings 11/09/13 - 10:39 am
3
0

Amen

Dichotomy I throughly believe you are 100% on that.

rmwhitley
5081
Points
rmwhitley 11/09/13 - 12:29 pm
0
0

I blame

Unpublished

the obama-naacp regime. They encourage this type of thievery and fraud.

nocnoc
30833
Points
nocnoc 11/09/13 - 03:05 pm
4
0

Offer a 1 time Food Stamp amnesty

Offer a 1 time Food Stamp amnesty period of 90 days, where a person can admit abuse, and stop using Food stamps.

Then use the IRS to cross compare income, housing, location, and etc. data to determine abusers to investigate. Interview and charge as needed. On conviction start tossing the Book at a both big and small abusers.

I'd start with $500 cell phone owners on Food Stamps driving a new cars to weed out the HIGH PROFILE few.

It is important to remember abuse is typically averages less than
11%. But even 11% of $78 Billion is over 7.8 Billion over
the 47,600,000 users. Works out to about $163.86 that could be been used or or reduced from the budget.

Dixieman
10350
Points
Dixieman 11/09/13 - 07:22 pm
3
0

Fraud and waste

are the earmarks of our government. Who will stop it??

Pops
4334
Points
Pops 11/09/13 - 08:49 pm
4
3

I think the prosecution of these

people was based on race.....they are not guilty of anything and are being picked on.....

nocnoc
30833
Points
nocnoc 11/10/13 - 10:14 am
2
0

Pops - once again, speed readers missed your left handed joke.

I know you meant it as Sarcasm.

Look up the word people.
Sarcasm, to ridicule or mock harshly, often crudely and contemptuously, for destructive purposes. It may be used in an indirect manner, and have the form of irony, such as

"What a fine politician you turned out to be!"

POPS - You get a Thumbs Up by me.

Pops
4334
Points
Pops 11/10/13 - 10:39 am
4
0

Makes you wonder

if these Georgians were smart enough to come up with this business model all by themselves.......my gut feeling is NO. Some others developed it and I'll bet there are dozens of them operating on a bigger scale in many other states......

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 11/10/13 - 04:16 pm
3
1

Pops, I would bet that the

Unpublished

Pops, I would bet that the NAACP and other such special rights groups are teaching folks how to defraud the system. It is just 'Social Justice'.

Pops
4334
Points
Pops 11/10/13 - 07:27 pm
3
0

This kind of stuff would not

happen in this area if the county would get off their duff and throw some taxpayer money in there and revitalize it. Then add little gentrification......done......oh wait......add a few more dollars for greenspace......now done......

chiqagolil@ymail.com
18
Points
chiqagolil@ymail.com 11/14/13 - 05:31 am
1
0

WIC was my only Salvation

When I was raped and left pregnant by a guy using a date rape drug when I was in my 20's, I had been so devastated I could no longer work or even function. Because I managed a restaurant, alone, I had to be healthy. However, the constant sickness and fainting caused me to be fired by the main branch. Welfare did not help me for the first 6 1/2 months of my pregnancy. I earned only $125.00-a month because I could not leave home for weeks at a time. I had no electricity. I used ice to keep my WIC milk, and Cheese, fresh. The cereal was my only source of vitamins and nutrition. As a result of the lack of food and protein, or probably, heat, my daughter was born beautiful, but Autistic. Had it not been for WIC, neither she nor I would have been alive, at all. During this time period, many of these people at my food stamp office were arrested for food stamp embezzlement. Even the Red Cross had this problem. These Worthless Placements of Sperm hurt people like me and those who had nothing. She and her gang are just as bad as the garbage who raped me.

chiqagolil@ymail.com
18
Points
chiqagolil@ymail.com 11/14/13 - 05:45 am
1
0

STOP HATING THE POOR

FOR THE WASTE AND FRAUD THAT OCCUR IN OFFICES.

chiqagolil@ymail.com
18
Points
chiqagolil@ymail.com 11/14/13 - 05:52 am
1
0

WIC IS NOT WELFARE

WIC not only provides food, cheese, and milk, but education, Vaccinations, medical check ups for kids, pre-disease screenings and shots, until age 21. It, also, gives Dental screenings and total check ups for kids until grown. It is for working and under paid families who need medical help but have no welfare or medical or Dental insurance for their kids.

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