Business owner sentenced to prison for $8.5 million food stamp fraud scheme

President Donald Trump, with an eye toward saving taxpayer money, has taken a sharp look at curbing waste, fraud, and abuse within federal welfare programs and serving justice upon those responsible for such.

With that in mind, the president was likely pleased to hear that a business owner in Ohio convicted of a role in defrauding the food stamp program of roughly $8.5 million will soon be serving time in prison, according to Breitbart.

SNAP scheme

In U.S. District Court in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday, Judge Thomas Rose sentenced 34-year-old Kaitlin Koher to 14 months in federal prison and ordered her to pay the government $639,779 in restitution.

The Canton Repository reported that Koher is the owner of Ohio Direct Distributors (ODD), a retail business that provides home delivery of various meat products, which according to court filings received upwards of $8.5 million in fraudulent benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over a six-year period from August of 2011 through September of 2017.

According to federal investigators, ODD conducted a scheme that involved providing credit or gift cards to customers in exchange for future SNAP benefits in order to finance current purchases.

The company gained access to the customer’s SNAP account — sometimes via the use of “intimidation tactics” — and would often access the accounts to complete transactions “without the individual recipient’s knowledge or consent.”

Koher, others sentenced

Koher’s sentence followed a plea agreement reached in August that saw her plead guilty to one count of conspiracy, while a separate count of conspiracy to commit money laundering was dismissed.

According to her attorney, Christian Cavalier, she will remain in her home until she reports to federal prison to being her 14-month sentence at some unspecified date in January.

The judge actually gave Koher a more lenient sentence than that received by the actual primary operator of the business, Aaron Luke, who in July was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution to the government.

A number of other employees were also swept up in indictments first issued in May of 2018. Most of those other employees received sentences of probation or had charges reduced or dismissed.

Systemic fraud

Breitbart noted that this case is not isolated or unique, but rather is merely the latest such example of various schemes that have defrauded SNAP of millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars cumulatively over the years.

Thankfully, the perpetrators of such fraud are being prosecuted when caught, and hopefully, additional measures are being taken to guard against potential schemes of this nature in the future.

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