Former State Criminal Investigator Charged with Extortion
Prior Food Stamp Fraud Investigator Used Position to Extort Money from Others
Jackson, Miss. – Frank Saddler, 52, of Ridgeland, was charged by Criminal Information with one count of Extortion Under Color of Official Right, relating to his former job with the Mississippi Department of Human Services investigating fraud related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze, and Dax Roberson, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Agriculture.
"There is almost nothing more corrosive to our democratic form of government than one who abuses his position of authority and public trust. Prosecuting public corruption is a priority of this U.S. Attorney’s Office, and those who abuse their power should be on notice that they will be held to account by this Justice Department," said U.S. Attorney Hurst.
As set forth in the Criminal Information, Saddler was a Branch Director with the Mississippi Department of Human Services ("MDHS"), which has oversight of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("SNAP") of the United States Department of Agriculture in Mississippi. Saddler’s duties included investigating violations of the SNAP regulations and pursuing criminal charges against violators.
As charged in the Criminal Information, from July 23, 2014 through June 12, 2015, Saddler extorted money from the owners of convenience stores who violated SNAP regulations and who had been charged with criminal violations relating to SNAP.
A violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), as charged in the Criminal Information, carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and supervised release of up to three years. Restitution is mandatory by law. The Criminal Information also seeks forfeiture of all proceeds of the extortion.
The public is reminded that a Criminal Information merely alleges that crimes have been committed and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Agriculture. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dave Fulcher.