Six Charged In Food Stamp Fraud Scheme

Thursday, June 23rd 2011, 5:28 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY – Six men and women have been charged with committing food stamp fraud.

Eboni Starr Poole, Shenita Rene Jefferson, Grier Mica Bowman, David Jeffrey Richards, Raya Thais Morris, and Stephanie Green are accused of cheating the system out of more than $14,000 in just a matter of months.

At least four of the six have been arrested.

All six are accused of going into area convenience stores with their food stamp debit cards, or SNAP cards as they are called, and asking clerks to redeem them for cash.

Court records state clerks would trade them in at a rate of 50 cents on the dollar often resulting in the card holder pocketing hundreds of dollars at a time and the store clerk or store owner pocketing an equal amount.

Last fall, two other store owners were indicted for pocketing more than $2 million in a similar food stamp trafficking scheme.

A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services said the DHS does its part to keep it from happening again.

"Our Office of Inspector General has one of the most aggressive food stamp fraud trafficking units in the country," Sheree Powell, DHS spokeswoman said. "They are very good at monitoring and tracking and investigating fraud like this."

The DHS has filed criminal charges against 24 retail stores around the metro for food stamp scams. So far, two store owners have been indicted in federal court for defrauding the system out of more than $2 million dollars.

"These investigations are very involved and we want to make sure we catch everyone that's involved," Powell said.

Like last October, the DHS busted the owner of the Gahni Mart and 20 other retailers for participating in a similar scheme.

News 9 sent an undercover investigator into two of the stores listed in court documents, The Super Food Mart on Britton and Britton Discount Cigarettes, to see if they were still participating in the scam.

Both stores turned the reporter away.

And DHS said that is what is supposed to happen.

Any store that has been caught cheating the system is banned from accepting any future food stamp or SNAP benefits.