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Press Release

Three Local Residents Sentenced for Food Stamp Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Pamela C. Marsh announced thatthree men have been sentenced today by United States District Judge Mark Walker for conspiring to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - - also known as the food stamp program - - and on other charges. 

Rodrigue Bissainthe, 26, pled guilty to conspiracy and two mail fraud charges on November 27, 2013.  He received a sentence of three years of supervised release, with one year to be served in home confinement.  He must pay $300 in special monetary assessments (SMAs) and $3,572.85 in restitution.  His convictions were based upon allowing fraudulently obtained SNAP debit cards to be mailed to his residence and using one of the SNAP cards.

Darius Jemmott, 22, was convicted of conspiracy, three charges of fraud involving interstate wire communications, and aggravated identity theft.  He received a sentence of two years in prison, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release.  He must pay $500 in SMAs and $500.10 in restitution.  He provided a second address to which fraudulently obtained SNAP debit cards were mailed and used one of the SNAP cards.

Dwayne Phanor, 24, pled guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and seven aggravated identity theft charges on December 4, 2013.  He received a sentence of 54 months in prison, to be followed by twelve months of supervised release.  He must pay $1,000 in SMAs and restitution of $7,905.21.

According to court records, Phanor filed approximately 72 fraudulent SNAP applications, seeking total benefits of approximately $102,000.  Some applications were unsuccessful, because those people named in the applications were already properly receiving SNAP benefits.  Phanor then made about twenty-five change of address requests, to have those legitimate SNAP benefits diverted to locations he controlled.  In those calls, Phanor sometimes pretended to be elderly or female, based upon the circumstances of the genuine beneficiary.  When Phanor received SNAP cards, he sold them at discounted prices to his acquaintances.

SNAP provides economic assistance to qualified low-income people, to help them obtain adequate food.  The United States Department of Agriculture funds the SNAP program, and in Florida, SNAP is administered by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF).  The Department of Financial Services investigates public assistance fraud arising from DCF programs.

U.S. Attorney Marsh praised the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Financial Services, the Tallahassee Police Department, the United States Postal Inspectors, and the United States Secret Service for their hard work, dedication, and expertise in the investigation that led to the successful prosecution of this case. 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Simpson.
Updated January 26, 2015