Worcester Woman Charged in $3.6 Million Food Stamp Fraud
BOSTON – A Worcester woman was charged today in U.S. District Court in Worcester in connection with a $3.6 million food stamp fraud scheme that she operated out of her Worcester convenience store.
Vida Ofori Causey, 45, was charged in an Information with one count of conspiracy to commit SNAP benefits fraud, one count of SNAP fraud, and one count of money laundering in connection with a four year fraud scheme.
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides eligible households with government subsidies for certain foodstuffs, and allows holders to exchange their SNAP benefits for food at authorized retail food stores.
Causey was the owner and operator of J&W Aseda Plaza, a convenience store on Main Street in Worcester. From April 2010 to October 2014, Causey conspired with others to commit SNAP fraud by purchasing SNAP benefits from recipients rather than exchanging them for food. Causey purchased the benefits at a discounted value of approximately fifty cents for every SNAP dollar. By so doing, Causey caused the USDA to electronically deposit into a bank account controlled by her the full face value of the SNAP benefits fraudulently obtained.
During the course of the conspiracy, Causey defrauded the USDA of approximately $3,638,900 in SNAP funds.
The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison and three years of supervised release. The charge of SNAP fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison and three years of supervised release. The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release. Each charge also provides for a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, and forfeiture and restitution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; William G. Squires, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Northeast Region; and William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Dineen Jerrett of Ortiz’s Worcester Branch Office.