ETX woman sentenced to 6 months in prison for food stamp fraud

ETX woman sentenced to 6 months in prison for food stamp fraud
MGN-Online
CrimeWatch

POSTED: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 2:25pm

UPDATED: Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 10:41am

Ordered to pay nearly $73,000 in restitution

A 42-year-old Bullard woman has been sentenced to federal prison for her role in a food stamp fraud scheme in East Texas.

Monica Bunch, also known as, Monica Hernandez, pleaded guilty on August 8, 2013, to conspiracy to unlawfully use, transfer, acquire and possess SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and was sentenced to six months in federal prison Wednesday, by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Bunch was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $72,846.09 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and to forfeit the proceeds of the fraud scheme.

According to the indictment, from January 2007 through March 31, 2012, Bunch, a clerk with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) in Jacksonville and her co-conspirators, devised and carried out a scheme to unlawfully obtain SNAP benefits. In her position as clerk at HHSC, Bunch identified dormant SNAP accounts belonging to individuals who did not live in or around Jacksonville, Texas, or who had moved away from the Jacksonville, Texas, area. Using the dormant accounts, Bunch created replacement Lone Star cards and forged and created documents to conceal the unlawful creation of the cards. Bunch sold the cards to the other defendants at approximately half of the card's actual SNAP benefit value. Bunch also provided the defendants with the PIN numbers associated with the cards. The defendants used the cards to purchase food from retailers in and around the Jacksonville and Tyler areas.

On July 25, 2013, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Bunch, Ernest Grady, 47, Evelyn Whitaker, 47, Genoveve Servin, 49, Maria Silva, 50, and Maria Delrosario Padron a/k/a “Chayo”, 38, all of Jacksonville, with conspiracy to unlawfully use, transfer, acquire, and possess SNAP Benefits.

“The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations is dedicated to combating fraud and abuses in SNAP,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Mary L. Lewis of the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations (USDA-OIG). “I commend the coordinated investigative efforts of State and Federal agencies that led to the successful prosecution of this case.”

U.S. Attorney Bales also praised the investigative team and added, “SNAP is an expensive and vitally important aid program that assists deserving individuals and families who might otherwise go hungry. Hopefully, the felony conviction and sentencing to prison of Monica Bunch sends a message to anyone who thinks they can rip off the American taxpayer – you will be held to account.”

SNAP is a federal government program, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which helps qualifying individuals and families buy food.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations, U.S. Secret Service, and the State of Texas, Health and Human Services Commission, Office of Inspector General-Internal Affairs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld prosecuted this case.

 

Comments News Comments

Great story Reagan.
Seems ketk focuses on public assistance programs like SNAP for its breaking news - though this is a big one.
ketk had a SNAP special not long ago.
How about giving White Collar Crime equal time on ketk breaking news and specials
Ever watch American Greed?
Now there are some criminal types stealing people's life savings to the tune of $Millions!
Or wage theft by corporations not paying their employees for regular & OT?
ketk has no credibility until it covers these stories too.

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