11 Louisiana Residents Sentenced to Public Assistance Benefits Fraud
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services announces the convictions of 11 Louisiana residents who fraudulently received more than $81,000 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) benefits.
"DCFS has a zero tolerance for fraud," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "I am very glad to see that these men and women who concealed information or lied in order to obtain benefits were not only identified and prosecuted, but ultimately convicted of fraud in a court of law."
Nickie Pates of Arcadia was sentenced in the 2nd Judicial District Court after pleading no contest to obtaining $17,755 in ineligible SNAP benefits. Pates received these benefits after concealing the presence of her spouse and his earnings. She was ordered to serve five years hard labor, which was suspended, placed on five years supervised probation, and ordered to make full restitution to DCFS.
Fleurette Williams of Rayville was sentenced in the 5th Judicial District Court to eight years hard labor, which was suspended, placed on five years active supervised probation after illegally obtaining $15,408 in SNAP benefits. Williams received these benefits after under-reporting her income and falsifying wage verification forms and was ordered to make full restitution to DCFS within 55 months.
Alice Rochelle of Farmerville pled guilty to illegally obtaining $14,630 in SNAP benefits after underreporting her income and falsifying wage verification forms. Rochelle was sentenced in the 3rd Judicial District Court to three years hard labor, which was suspended, placed on three years of supervised probation, and was ordered to make full restitution to DCFS.
Carla Leeann Stafford of Gonzales was sentenced in the 23rd Judicial District Court to three years supervised probation, and ordered to pay fines, fees, court costs and full restitution to DCFS after obtaining $9,527 in ineligible SNAP benefits. Stafford received these benefits after concealing her employment.
Doris Demery of Coushatta pled guilty to charges of obtaining $6,906 in ineligible SNAP benefits after misrepresenting her household's income in order to receive these benefits. Demery was sentenced in the 39th Judicial District Court to 6 months parish jail time, which was suspended, and placed on 6 months unsupervised probation.
Caren Parker of Lafayette pled guilty to theft under $500 after illegally receiving $5,207 in SNAP benefits by concealing her employment income. Parker was sentenced in the 15th Judicial District Court to 6 months jail time and 24 months supervised probation, which were suspended, ordered to pay a fine of $100 and court cost of $250. She was ordered to pay restitution to DCFS at a rate of $200 per month.
Lenita Emery of Clinton pled no contest to charges of receiving $3,981.40 in ineligible SNAP and CCAP benefits after concealing her employment. Emery was sentenced in the 20th Judicial District Court to one year supervised probation, and ordered to pay fines, fees, court costs and a monthly supervisory fee. She has paid full restitution to DCFS.
Tabitha Whitley of Winnsboro pled guilty in the 5th Judicial District Court to obtaining $2,718 in ineligible SNAP benefits after misrepresenting her household income. Whitely was sentenced to five years hard labor, which was suspended, placed on five years supervised probation on the condition that she pay a fine, court costs, and make full restitution to DCFS.
Richard Towns of Farmerville pled no contest charges of obtaining $2,271 in ineligible SNAP benefits by concealing his employment. Towns was sentenced in the 3rd Judicial District Court to 150 days in parish jail, which was suspended, and placed on nine months unsupervised probation. He has paid full restitution to DCFS.
Mae Roccio was sentenced in the 9th Judicial District Court to six months jail time, which was suspended, placed on two years supervised probation, and ordered to pay fines, court costs, and restitution to DCFS after receiving $2,024 in ineligible benefits. Roccio received these benefits after he misrepresented his household composition by declaring that his wife was his sister.
Barbara Ross of Covent was convicted of theft greater than $1,000 after receiving $1,460 in ineligible SNAP benefits by using the identity of another person. Ross was sentenced in the 23rd Judicial District Court to three years hard labor, and was given credit for time served.
Each individual was also disqualified for a minimum of twelve months from the program from which they were convicted of fraudulently receiving benefits.
Individuals are encouraged to report cases of suspected fraud in SNAP, FITAP, CCAP or the Kinship Care Program by calling the DCFS toll-free hot line at 1-888-LAHELP-U (1-888-524-3578) and selecting option 7 from the main menu or by visiting www.dcfs.la.gov/reportfraud.
DCFS uses a number of tools to identify potential fraud of benefits, including cross matching information with federal and other state agencies and its award-winning Geographic Information System technology.
DCFS seeks to recover ineligible benefits from individuals who receive them due to fraud or error by intercepting federal income tax refunds, withholding eligible benefits through recoupment or through administrative or court ordered repayment.