A Savannah woman and two others pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court to participating in a conspiracy to exchange more than $5 million in food stamps and Woman Infant and Children programs for cash.
Litricia Allen, 37, of Savannah; Jewell Allen, 57, of Atlanta, and Petrina Barge, of Decatur, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the fraud changes. Last week Sabrina Sesberry, 38, and Rupert Jones, 34, both of Atlanta, pleaded guilty to charges related to the conspiracy. A total of 12 people have pleaded guilty in the scheme
The plan involved 13 stores in Georgia, including shops in Savannah, Augusta and Atlanta.
Jones, Allen and Allen pleaded guilty to stealing government funds and face up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Barge pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the food stamp and WIC programs. She faces five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Sesberry, Jones and Litricia Allen are forfeiting their interests in several bank accounts, a 2005 Corvette, a 2003 Ferrari and a 2005 Maserati that were seized during the investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
"These defendants swindled American taxpayers.Contrary to the laws governing the food stamp program, these defendants allowed benefit holders to convert food stamp and WIC benefits into cash, oftentimes for 60 cents on the dollar. Of course, these defendants fraudulently billed the taxpayers for the full value of the food stamp and WIC benefits. The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting financial fraud, especially when government programs are utilized as a vehicle to steal from taxpayers," said U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver said in a statement.
A sentencing date will be scheduled after a presentence investigation is done by the Probation Office.