Fast Track to Prison

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On the checkout line.

One of the most fraudulent uses of food stamps is selling them in exchange for cash or other unapproved items. A recent Missouri case focuses on two individuals selling methamphetamine (definitely an unapproved item) in exchange for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Co-defendants Melanie A. Person of Milo and Bobby G. Johnson, Jr. of El Dorado Springs were found guilty of selling methamphetamine in exchange for federal food stamps. Person and Johnson admitted they accepted electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards and personal identification numbers (PIN) as forms of payment for methamphetamine. (Their METHods of making money are questionable at best.)

Vernon County sheriff’s deputies found 17 bags of methamphetamine in a dresser at Person’s house during a search in August 2018. The 17 bags totaled 16.65 grams of methamphetamine. (Fun fact: the average price for one gram of methamphetamine ranges from $20 to $80 depending on the area where sold. This is the same amount of money that could have been spent on groceries.)

Several EBT cards were also seized when they searched Person’s belongings. (They were issued to Johnson and three other individuals.) Deputies determined that the original owners of the EBT cards sold them to Person in exchange for methamphetamine. (They had intended to sell and distribute the remaining methamphetamine found for more SNAP EBT cards.) Person and Johnson used the EBT cards at various Walmart stores in the cities of Nevada and Raymore.

Person pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime in October 2019. She was sentenced to six years in federal prison without parole. (Selling ‘speed’ sent her on the fast track to prison.)

Johnson also pleaded guilty to identical charges. He was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison without parole. (Johnson was sentenced to double the time for the same crime. That probably means there was a plea deal.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Milo Woman Sentenced for SNAP Fraud, Meth Trafficking,” published by The United States Department of Justice  on June 11, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Milo, Missouri, woman has been sentenced in federal court for her role in a conspiracy to sell methamphetamine in exchange for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (commonly known as “food stamps”).

Melanie A. Person, 54, was sentenced by M. Douglas Harpool on Wednesday, June 10, to six years in federal prison without parole.

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.