Former Griffin Store Front Owner Convicted Of Food Stamp Fraud
Dix Defrauded the USDA of Over $400,000
ATLANTA - Herbert Dix pleaded guilty today in federal district court to defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture and possessing forged Women, Infant and Children (WIC) vouchers.
“Many people rely on government assistance to feed their families and children,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “This conviction demonstrates our commitment to prosecute those who defraud the USDA of funds meant for the neediest families.”
Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge of the USDA-OIG said, “The USDA-OIG takes fraud in its nutritional programs very seriously and will work with the Department of Justice and other federal and state law enforcement entities to vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals who defraud USDA programs. In these economic times, the need for nutritional assistance has increased. Taxpayers expect their tax dollars to be used effectively and only within the confines of the rules and regulations of nutritional assistance programs. Trafficking in benefits by purchasing those benefits for cash is illegal. The OIG is committed to maintaining integrity in the USDA programs and continuing its investigations into these illegal activities.”
“We applaud the difficult work of our law enforcement partners,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “Along with DPH’s team of inspectors, law enforcement and the courts have worked tirelessly to identify, investigate, prosecute and eliminate elements of fraud from the state’s WIC program, saving Georgia taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Dix owned and operated a store front grocery in Griffin named Spank’s Quick Stop. The store was authorized by the State of Georgia to redeem Women, Infant and Children (WIC) vouchers for specified food items, such as infant formula, milk, and cheese. The Georgia Department of Public Health issues WIC vouchers to low income - at risk families which they can use to purchase specified food items from authorized grocers. Contrary to federal law and state regulations, Dix and his employees paid cash for the WIC vouchers instead of accepting them as payment for the food items listed on the vouchers.
On 18 separate occasions, an undercover law enforcement officer entered Spank’s Quick Stop where Dix and his employees redeemed blank WIC vouchers for cash. Dix then filled in an amount on the vouchers significantly greater than what he paid for the vouchers and deposited the vouchers into his bank account. In December 2010, federal, state and local law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Spank’s and seized over 100 forged blank WIC vouchers. An analysis of Dix’s bank records revealed that between 2010 and 2011 Dix defrauded the USDA of in excess of $400,000.
Dix, 49, of Riverdale, Ga., was indicted in July 2012, on 18 counts of WIC fraud and 83 counts of possession of forged securities. He pleaded guilty to the entire indictment. On Counts One through Eighteen on each count, he could receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. On Counts Nineteen through One Hundred-One, on each count he could receive a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. 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 July 17, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., before United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Georgia Department of Public Health, Office of Inspector General, and the Griffin Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney David Leta is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (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.