PAIR OF STATE EMPLOYEES SENTENCED TO PRISON IN FOOD STAMP SCHEME
September 08, 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, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr., to serve federal prison terms on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 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 families.”
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.”
TELL was sentenced to 2 years 9 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. TELL was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $576,570. TELL pleaded guilty to the charges on July 1, 2011.
WILLIAMS was sentenced to 1 year, 9 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. WILLIAMS was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $73,008. WILLIAMS pleaded guilty to the charges on July 1, 2011.
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 the Department of Family and Children’s Services (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.
This case was investigated by Agents of the United States 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 the State of Georgia’s Senior Assistant Attorney General Kimberly L. Schwartz prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.