Smith County woman sentenced for food stamp fraud scheme - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Smith County woman sentenced for food stamp fraud scheme

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A 42-year-old Bullard, Texas, woman has been sentenced to federal prison for her role in a food stamp fraud scheme. A 42-year-old Bullard, Texas, woman has been sentenced to federal prison for her role in a food stamp fraud scheme.
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

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

According to U.S. Attorney John M. Bales, Monica Bunch, pleaded guilty on Aug. 8, 2013 to conspiracy to unlawfully use, transfer, acquire, and possess Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. She was sentenced to six months in federal prison Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Bunch was also ordered to pay $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 and her co-conspirators devised and carried out a scheme to unlawfully obtain SNAP benefits. In her position as clerk at Texas Health and Human Services Commission in Jacksonville, Bunch identified inactive SNAP accounts belonging to people who did not live in the Jacksonville area.

Bunch used the inactive accounts to create replacement Lone Star cards and then forged documents to cover it up. She sold the cards at half of the card's actual SNAP benefit value, and provided the buyers with the PIN numbers of the cards. The people who bought these cards from Bunch used them to purchase food from stores in Jacksonville and Tyler.

On July 25, 2013, a federal grand jury indicted Bunch, Ernest Grady, 47, Evelyn Whitaker, 47, Genoveve Servin, 49, Maria Silva, 50, and Maria Delrosario Padron, 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. “I commend the coordinated investigative efforts of State and Federal agencies that led to the successful prosecution of this case,” she added.

U.S. Attorney Bales also praised the investigative team by saying, “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 Food and Nutrition Service, 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.

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