Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Woman who stole $3.6 million in food stamp benefits gets just one year in prison

One year? One? How 'bout 20! Two decades in the slammer for the thief will send the right message to others contemplating stealing from taxpayers.

From the Worcester Telegram:
A federal judge Monday sentenced a local woman to a year in jail and ordered her to forfeit $3.5 million and pay restitution in what lawyers said was the largest food stamp fraud case in Massachusetts history.

Vida Ofori Causey, 46, owner of J&W Aseda Plaza at 753 Main St., pleaded guilty in December to charges of conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits fraud, SNAP fraud, and money laundering in a $3.6 million cash-for-benefits scheme.

The scheme involved buying food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar while charging the government the full value of the benefit. In a four-year period, Mrs. Causey rang through more than $3.6 million worth of benefits from a three-aisle convenience store in Main South.

Judge Timothy S. Hillman sentenced Mrs. Causey to a year imprisonment plus three years of supervised probation. Judge Hillman also ordered Mrs. Causey to forfeit $3.5 million. Authorities have already seized roughly $100,000 from Mrs. Causey, and Judge Hillman did not set a specific amount for restitution. But the judge said restitution against the $3.5 million loss that remains in the case would be set once authorities had seized Mrs. Causey's assets.

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