Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich has sentenced Arritta Spence (48, Haines City) to one year and three months in federal prison for theft of government funds. As part of her sentence, the court also entered a money judgment of $117,234.40, the proceeds of the offense. Spence pleaded guilty on December 4, 2017.
According to court documents, Spence received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and served as the representative payee for five of her minor children. In addition, she also received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid benefits through the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Spence failed to notify the SSA and the DCF about changes in her household composition and her available resources, which resulted in overpayment to Spence and her children. Specifically, she failed to report significant income from her casino winnings. On March 4, 2010, Spence won $20,568.78 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. Between January 2011 and March 2014, she won an additional $108,776.90 at that casino. Because Spence failed to report her casino winnings and other changes in resources and household composition to the SSA and the DCF, she and her children were over paid approximately $100,000 in SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid benefits.
This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Public Assistance Fraud, and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rachel K. Jones.