A woman in Kentucky was sentenced to 66 months in prison for conspiring to commit food stamp fraud. Scroll down to see exactly how much TAXPAYER DOLLARS she STOLE from us!
U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning sentenced 49-year-old Phyllis Tyler for conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, food stamp fraud and four counts of money laundering.
Tyler operated A&E Fashion’s and Beauty Supply LLC, a convenience store in Covington, which was an authorized food stamp retailer. The United States Department of Agriculture administers the food stamp program, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides benefits to recipients who are eligible for assistance.
How did all of this work? Well to answer that we have to learn a little bit more about the basics of the program.
Retail stores may participate in SNAP only with the authorization of the USDA, Food and Nutrition Service and may only accept and redeem food stamp benefits in connection with the sale of eligible food stamp items. Authorized retailers cannot accept food stamp benefits in exchange for cash. Food stamp recipients use an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that maintains the benefit balance and can be used at any authorized retailer to redeem benefits.
According to the evidence at trial, from January 2, 2012, until June 26, 2015, Tyler made cash purchases of food stamp benefits from beneficiaries, paying half the value of the benefits actually on the EBT cards.
Tyler then “redeemed” the full monetary benefit amount by performing EBT transactions at her own store. This prompted the EBT electronic system to send a direct reimbursement for the rigged EBT transaction right to Tyler’s bank account connected to her businesses.
Can you believe how much money Tyler tried to steal from the government? Our money really. Those are our tax dollars!
As a result of the fraud, Tyler was responsible for causing a $408,979.76 loss to the food stamp program. On four occasions, Tyler also transferred more than $10,000 in food stamp fraud proceeds through a financial institution, in violation of federal money laundering statutes.
Under federal law, Tyler must serve 85 percent of her prison sentence and will be under supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years following her term of incarceration.
Now it’s one thing for a struggling family to receive some food stamps for a few months till times get better. Most of us probably don’t think too much about a few deserving folks TEMPORARILY using this helpful resource. But, being as the headlines tend to center around obnoxious lazy people like “Welfare Wanda”, it’s little wonder the program gets such a bad rap.
President Trump is seeking to transform our approach to food stamps by including a work element for healthy individuals. And truly that is the solution. People do sometimes need assistance or food stamps and some help. But, it needs to be provided alongside encouragement or help finding work and viewed as a transitional tool NOT an end to a means.