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Press Release

Erie Man Pleads Guilty in Food Stamp Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

ERIE, Pa. - A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

John L. McDowell, 68, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that McDowell’s three co-defendants were engaged in food stamp fraud primarily involving exchanging food stamps for cash. John McDowell was enlisted to submit a fraudulent application for a food stamp license so that the food stamp terminals in use at the convenience stores owned and operated by two of the co-defendants would not be in their names. The defendants then used the food stamp terminals at locations where they were not authorized.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for May 21, 2018, at 1:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continue McDowell on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, the Erie Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of McDowell.

Updated January 25, 2018