PAIR OF STATE EMPLOYEES PLEAD GUILTY IN FOOD STAMP SCHEME
July 1, 2011
Tell and Williams Responsible for Over a Half-Million Dollars
of So-Called “EBT” Cards
ATLANTA, GA - GENE TELL, 34, of East Point, Georgia, and KRISTY NICOLE WILLIAMS, 27, of Decatur, Georgia, two former workers for the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS), pleaded guilty today in federal district court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud relating to a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture of nearly $600,000.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Many mothers and families rely on government funds to feed their families and children. These former DFCS employees stole over a half-million dollars by pillaging funds meant for the neediest among us.”
Georgia Department of Human Services Commissioner Clyde L. Reese said, “Since becoming Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services in January 2011, I was made aware of an ongoing investigation into the fraudulent activity by former DHS employees. It is my expectation that employees of this agency conduct themselves in a manner that is ethical and honest. An overwhelming majority of DHS employees serve Georgians in that manner. For those that do not, we will take action and work with law enforcement to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
GBI Director Vernon Keenan said of the case, “The thefts of public funds by state employees are priority investigations for the GBI. We will continue to partner with the Attorney General and the United States Attorney in investigating and prosecuting these crimes.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In 1998, the State of Georgia converted from paper food stamps to electronic benefits transaction cards (“EBT”) to meet federal guidelines. From November 2009 through March 2010, TELL AND WILLIAMS, while employed as a Financial Independence Case Managers in the DeKalb County office of DFCS, used their DFCS positions to fraudulently cause EBT accounts to be reactivated or created new EBT cards to be issued that were for the fraudulent accounts. As a result of this scheme, TELL and WILLIAMS received multiple payments.
TELL and WILLIAMS were charged in a Criminal Information on May 4, 2011, on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Today they pleaded guilty to all three counts. They could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Sentencing is scheduled for September 8, 2011, at 2 p.m., before United States District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.
Assistant United States Attorney Bernita B. Malloy and Senior Assistant Attorney General Kimberly L. Schwartz are prosecuting the case.