Nevada Woman Pleads Guilty to Taking 'Food Stamps' for Meth, Cash
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nevada, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to her role in a conspiracy to exchange “food stamps” for methamphetamine or cash.
Julie M. Drake, 48, of Nevada, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.
By pleading guilty today, Drake admitted that she participated in a conspiracy from Oct. 14 to Aug. 30, 2015, in Bates and Vernon Counties. Drake accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, better known as “food stamps,” in exchange for methamphetamine or a percentage of the benefits in cash. Drake then used the EBT cards and PINs belonging to others to buy her own food.
Vernon County Sheriff’s Department officers executed a search warrant at Drake’s residence on Oct. 14, 2015. During a search of the master bedroom, officers found a purse that contained 22 baggies of methamphetamine, weighing approximately 100 grams, packaged for distribution. Officers also found two digital scales in the bedroom closet, as well as a safe that contained $4,720. Four EBT cards belonging to four other individuals were found on the dresser.
Investigators then reviewed video surveillance from the Wal-Mart stores in Nevada and Lamar, Mo., which showed Drake using the EBT cards found in her bedroom.
In interviews with federal agents, one of the recipients of the EBT cards admitted he used his EBT benefits to buy a quarter ounce of methamphetamine from Drake. He told investigators that a $55.94 transaction was payment for the methamphetamine, which would have cost approximately half the value of the transaction. Another one of the recipients admitted to selling his EBT benefits to Drake for 50 cents per each $1 in benefits. She would come to his residence to retrieve the EBT card, call the 1-800 number on the back of the EBT card to verify the balance, and then give him half of the value in cash.
Under federal statutes, Drake is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 40 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nhan D. Nguyen and Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General and the Vernon County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.