Ocala Woman Charged In Federal Court With Snap Fraud And Theft Of Government Funds
Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Lateasha Monique Perry (34, Ocala) with seven counts of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud and two counts of theft of government funds. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison on each of the fraud counts, and up to 10 years on each of the theft counts.
SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is a national program established to alleviate hunger and malnutrition among lower income families. According to evidence presented in federal court, from June 2013 through February 2016, Perry received federally funded SNAP benefits via a debit card. Although these benefits only can be redeemed for certain basic food items, she repeatedly cashed out hundreds of dollars of her benefits by purchasing little or no merchandise and, instead, received large amounts of cash from store personnel. This practice is strictly prohibited under the program’s rules and federal law. By analyzing SNAP redemption data from the store, agents identified Perry as the person with the highest number of fraudulent transactions. The estimated loss to the federal government exceeds $30,000, including more than 97 suspected transactions.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.