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Press Release

Store Manager Sentenced for $5.1 Million Food Stamp Fraud

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

MACON, Ga. - Michael Paul Atkinson, Jr., has been sentenced for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the federal food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“The defendant used the food stamp program as an ATM,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “Food stamps provide needed assistance to the most vulnerable citizens in our society.  Schemes like these unfortunately divert critical resources away from the people who need them most.”  

“USDA-OIG stands firm in its mission to safeguard program benefits.  The prosecution of Atkinson serves as a message to those who operate businesses for the purposes of defrauding USDA programs and taxpayers that USDA-OIG will work with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate and prosecute you,” stated Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge, USDA OIG-Investigations.

“The American tax system is designed to provide vital government services to our people,” said Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Every dollar that Michael Paul Atkinson diverted through fraudulent and criminal activity is a dollar taken away from a child in need or a vulnerable adult. We are proud to work hand-in-hand with our law enforcement partners to ensure that fraudulent benefit schemes are investigated thoroughly and any avenues allowing exploitation of these programs are shut down.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Atkinson operated Mid Way Market in Macon, Georgia, from 2010 through March 2015.  During that time, Atkinson paid beneficiaries in cash to redeem SNAP benefits and allowed beneficiaries to use those benefits to purchase non-allowed items.  In addition, Atkinson taught other workers at Mid Way how to process fraudulent claims.  As a result of the fraudulent scheme, the SNAP program paid over $5.1 million in redemptions to Mid Way that should not have been paid. 

Atkinson also agreed that his home was subject to forfeiture because it was purchased with proceeds from the fraud.  His house has been forfeited to the United States.   

Michael Paul Atkinson, Jr., 37, of Hampton, Georgia, has been sentenced to five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,141,520.28.  Atkinson was convicted on these charges on March 31, 2016, after he pleaded guilty.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia is recused from this case.  It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

This case was investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.    

Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher J. Huber prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Updated July 27, 2016

Financial Fraud