Wilkinsburg Convenience Store Owners Get Probation for Defrauding the Food Stamp Program
PITTSBURGH - Owners of a Wilkinsburg convenience store have been sentenced to two years of probation, five months home detention and ordered to pay restitution of $119,871.00 on their conviction on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and food stamp fraud, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Nicole Gordon, 34, of Turtle Creek, PA and Stanley Saxton, 44, of Verona, PA, siblings and co-owners and operators of Nicky's Corner, located on Montier Street in Wilkinsburg, PA, were sentenced by Senior District Judge Maurice B. Cohill, Jr. Gordon and Saxton also executed civil settlement agreements for violations of the False Claims Act, and agreed to pay to the United States the sum of $119,871.
According to the information presented to the court, Nicky's Corner participated in the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as the Food Stamp Program. Food stamp recipients could purchase eligible food items using food stamp benefit cards at the store. As a condition of participation in the Food Stamp Program, the defendants certified that they would comply with all rules and regulations of the program and were aware that program rules strictly prohibited the exchange of food stamp benefits for cash and/or for ineligible items, such as cigarettes. Despite this knowledge, on multiple occasions, the defendants exchanged food stamp benefits with customers in exchange for cash on a discounted basis, usually giving the customers only 50 cents on the dollar for their food stamp benefits. Gordon and Saxton also permitted customers to use food stamp benefits to pay for ineligible items, such as cigarettes.
Assistant United States Attorney Tonya Sulia Goodman is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office and Assistant United States Attorney Colin Callahan is litigating the case on behalf of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Section of the United States Attorney's Office.
U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Office of the Inspector General for the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Nicole Gordon and Stanley Saxton.