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Press Release

Convenience Store Owner Pleads Guilty to Over One Million Dollars in Food Stamp Fraud

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

ATLANTA - Sholondrell Taylor has pleaded guilty to theft of government funds in a $1.6 million food stamp fraud scheme. Taylor’s stores allowed customers to exchange their food stamps for cash, buying Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) vouchers at less than face value and redeeming them at full price. 

“The defendant abused the food stamp program for her own financial gain, taking advantage of families in need and stealing over a million dollars from taxpayers,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “Taylor’s elaborate scheme even included a driver to pick up food stamps and WIC vouchers from those willing to sell them for a fraction of their value.” 

“Taylor’s plea should serve as a warning to all stores that participate in the WIC and EBT programs as vendors, that fraud and trafficking (purchasing those benefits for cash) will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted by the USDA-OIG, the US Attorney’s Office, and all of its federal, state, and local partners that have a stake in ensuring that fraud is eliminated from tax payer funded programs,” said Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge, USDA-OIG-Investigations.

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: From January 2008 through January 2011, Taylor operated Dandes Food Center, LLC, in Forest Park, Georgia, and Shop Rite Food Mart, LLC, located in Atlanta, Georgia, where she unlawfully allowed her customers to exchange their food stamp benefits for cash at the rate of 50 cents on the dollar.  Taylor also purchased Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) vouchers from benefit recipients at less than their actual value and redeemed the vouchers for full value with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Taylor set the rates of redemption, and instructed her employees to keep detailed ledgers of all transactions to ensure that they were not stealing from her.  She trained her employees on how to determine the available balances on food stamp cards; and required employees to obtain WIC voucher codes and usable voucher dates before purchasing the vouchers.  Many of the customers who sold their WIC vouchers, and food stamp benefits, never visited Dandes or Shop Rite because Taylor employed a driver to retrieve WIC vouchers and food stamp cards in exchange for cash.

This case came to the attention of federal authorities as a result of a investigation involving Georgia Department of Human Services employees.  In 2011, Gene Tell and Kristy Williams were charged with conspiracy and mail fraud for their roles in the fraudulent creation and distribution of thousands of food stamp cards.  Many of the fraudulent cards were illegally redeemed at Dandes Food Center operated by Taylor.

Sentencing for Sholondrell Taylor, 47, of Ellenwood, Georgia, has not yet been scheduled.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.

Assistant United States Attorney Loranzo M. Fleming is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Updated March 1, 2016

Topic
Financial Fraud