Sometimes, asking for favors is difficult. It can be awkward to request help when your favor requires hard work like moving furniture. Or a friend or family member might be inconvenienced when you ask for a ride to a busy metropolitan airport in the middle of rush hour. However, most people are happy to comply with requests from friends or family because you’d be appreciative of their efforts and would be happy to return the favor, right? A former Washington, D.C. government employee had a different idea about favors. (He used his position to dole out welfare benefits in exchange for sexual favors, which eventually led to a food stamp fraud conviction. Talk about awkward.)
The former case worker for Washington, D.C.’s Department of Human Services (DHS), targeted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). (These programs dispense benefits to recipients via electronic benefit cards.) The social service representative, who processed applications for SNAP and TANF and benefit payments, also processed underpayments. (Underpayments occurred when welfare recipients didn’t receive the SNAP and TANF payments they were eligible to receive.)
It turns out that today’s fraudster had access to the DHS computer system that managed services, including underpayments. (Social service representatives were authorized to create up to $2,000 in underpayments at a time without having approval from a supervisor.) Over three months, the former case worker authorized about 779 fraudulent SNAP and TANF underpayments for approximately 305 beneficiaries totaling more than $1.4M, knowing that the beneficiaries were not entitled to them. (He recruited eligible SNAP and TANF beneficiaries whom he had previously worked with to participate in the scheme.)
So, what did the former social service representative receive in return for the favors? About $150,000 in cash kickbacks from the welfare recipients. (His take was about half of the amount he disbursed.) In some cases, he also solicited and accepted sexual favors. He was sneaky. He made sure each fraudulent underpayment transaction was below the $2,000 threshold for supervisory approval so he could carry out his food stamp fraud scheme. Here’s a shocker – 296 of the 305 beneficiaries he disbursed underpayments to were women. (Court records show that he engaged in sexting with at least 50 of the beneficiaries and accepted sexual favors as well. What a nice guy.)
The former D.C. government employee pleaded guilty to issuing more than $1.45 M in food stamp fraud, admitting he accepted sexual favors from between 10 and 20 female beneficiaries in exchange for fraudulent underpayments. (Sounds like he was pretty busy over that three-month period.) The 48-year-old was sentenced to seven years behind bars and ordered to pay $1,456,985 in restitution and an additional $150,000 forfeiture money judgement. After serving out his prison term, he’ll be placed on three years of supervised release. (It’s fair to say that the judge did everyone a favor by giving this D.C. fraudster an appropriate sentence for his abusive and illegal behavior.)
Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a Department of Justice press release, “Former District Government Employee Sentenced to 84 Months in Prison for Scheme Involving Over $1.4 Million in Fraudulently Issued Benefits,” released on July 17, 2019.
WASHINGTON – Demetrius McMillan, 48, a former employee of the District of Columbia Department of Human Services (DHS), was sentenced today to 84 months in prison for his involvement in a scheme in which he defrauded the agency of more than $1.4 million by steering inflated food stamp and temporary assistance benefits to people who were entitled to receive them.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, Washington Field Office Charles A. Dayoub, District of Columbia Inspector General Daniel W. Lucas, and Special Agent in Charge Maureen R. Dixon of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), for the region that includes Washington, D.C.