FORMER GRIFFIN GROCERY STORE OWNER SENTENCED FOR WIC FRAUD
NEWNAN, Ga. - Herbert Dix has been sentenced in federal district court for defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and possessing forged “WIC” vouchers.
“Families most in need rely on government funds for basic subsistence,” United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “This defendant stole from the USDA and tax payers, depriving some of the neediest families of funds meant to help them survive.”
“It is unfortunate that people continue to defraud nutritional programs that have been created to provide assistance in times of need. USDA-OIG remains committed to working with DOJ and its law enforcement partners in ensuring that those who steal from nutritional programs, such as the WIC program, and the taxpayers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. People who defraud these programs foolishly think they will never be caught, but USDA is assiduous in investigating program fraud and bringing the perpetrators of such fraud to justice”, stated Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge.
"The enduring cooperation between the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), local law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office should send a clear signal to those contemplating WIC fraud,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., DPH’s commissioner, who commended a conviction three years in the making. “We are committed to working together to detect and eliminate fraud, and to preserve precious funds for those who need it most.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Dix owned and operated Spanks Quick Stop, a store front grocery store in Griffin, Ga. Spank’s Quick Stop was authorized by the State of Georgia to redeem Woman, Infant, and Children (WIC) vouchers for specified food items, such as infant formula, milk, and cheese, etc. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) issues WIC vouchers to low income, at risk families, who can use the vouchers 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 illegally 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 he had defrauded the USDA out of more than $150,000.
Dix, 49, of Riverdale, Ga., has been sentenced to one year and ten months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, 100 hours of community service, $14,100 restitution, and a special assessment of $10,100. Dix was indicted in July 2012 on 18 counts of WIC fraud and 83 counts of possession of forged securities. In May, he pleaded guilty to the entire indictment.
This case was 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 prosecuted 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.