Seven women from South Carolina have pled guilty for their role in a $5 million food stamp fraud scheme involving a Daisy Express mart that allowed stamps to be used for purchases of non-authorized items.
The Charlotte Observer reports that a state judge ruled the women – who are just a few of the many caught up in the case – will be able to avoid jail if they pay the money back by December 31, 2017.
The seven women who plead guilty, in order of the most amount defrauded to the least, were: Jatonica Williams, 31, $5,238 in fraud; 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 in fraud; and Brooke Rogers, 27, $2,134.
All women plead guilty to misdemeanor fraud charges and, as part of a plea deal, promised to repay the money in exchange for a 30-day suspended sentence and two years of probation should they meet the payment deadline.
Others involved in the case may not get off so easily.
The owners of the Daisy Mart allegedly trafficked benefits and exchanged food stamps for cash while the recipients of the food stamps used their EBT cards to buy items like hot food, beer, and cigarettes, which they are prohibited to do, or accepted cashback.
The three owners are expected to pay back the $5 million and will each serve five years behind bars.
The owners may be eligible for a reduced sentence in federal court if they agree to testify against the recipients who used their benefits to receive illegal money and goods.
According to The Herald, South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Sam Jones said if a food stamp is used for anything other than non-prepared food, or exchanged for cash, it is a crime.
According to Jones, this instance of fraud took place between March 2014 to 2016.