From staff reports
The last of the defendants charged in a Wilkinson County food stamp fraud scheme was sentenced Tuesday.
According to a press release from the office of Michael J. Moore, United States attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Lashaundra Evans, 32, of Wilkinson County, will serve 12 months and a day and pay $14,460 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture after pleading guilty July 29 to federal charges of one county of food stamp fraud.
Evans was part of a food stamp fraud scheme involving Elbert Eugene Shinholster, 77, also of Wilkinson County, who was sentenced Oct.. 18 to 40 months in prison and is required to pay restitution for food stamp fraud and money laundering. Shinholster was the owner and operator of Shinholster’s Grocery and Meat Market in Irwinton. According to the press release, those involved in the scheme ran electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards through the point of sale machine administered by the food stamp program as though the cardholder had purchased food when, in fact, the cardholder got cash instead. The illegal EBT debits included an additional 30 percent of the cash amount as profit.
In addition to Evans, 15 other defendants from Wilkinson County pleaded guilty to participating in the fraud and have also been sentenced: Tracey McDowell, Kristi Norther, Keisha Robinson, Sheen Sanders, Krystal Allen, Angelina Curry, Brandy Day, Cassandra Harris, Willie Harris, Jazmin Hunter, Janine Jackson, Shanirah Jackson, Shamirah Jackson, Karrie Jackson and Pamela Johnson.
“Ms. Evans took advantage of a worthwhile system that was set up to help people who need a hand, just like her and her children. What is unfortunate about these cases is that this type of fraud unquestionably becomes the topic of conversation as opposed to the many positive stories and many good people who genuinely benefit from the food stamp program,” attorney Moore.
In a second, separate food stamp fraud and money laundering case in Wilkinson County, Alfred Boyd previously entered a guilty plea and was sentenced Oct. 31 to serve 52 months in prison and pay $800,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Boyd owned the Northwind Mini Mart in McIntyre. According to the press release, between December 2009 and March 2011, he conspired with his niece, Chiquita Boyd, and a number of food stamp recipients to defraud the food stamp program.
Eleven other defendants also pleaded guilty to participating with Boyd. Several of them participated with both Shinholster and Boyd in the separate fraud schemes.
“These were cases of greed and serious crimes,” said Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, special agent in charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations. “Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with people who use deceit and fraud to obtain money that belongs to others for their own personal benefit. We are pleased with the successful resolution of these investigations due to the cooperative efforts of our law enforcement partners.”