ATLANTA – Jonathan and Stephanie Dupiton have been sentenced for using stolen identities to steal over $395,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The defendants illegally obtained SNAP benefits for themselves, and then cashed them at stores they owned in several Georgia communities.
“These defendants subverted the SNAP program to line their own pockets and also used hundreds of stolen identities to commit their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “They used the SNAP system as an ATM for their personal gain, diverting critical benefits that help those who need assistance in our communities.”
“The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General- Investigations, actively investigates allegations of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud. These defendants stole unsuspecting people’s identities, used those identities to fraudulently acquire EBT cards, and misused thousands of dollars worth of SNAP benefits to enrich themselves at the expense of American taxpayers. Collectively, this type of fraudulent activity undermines this vital program by misdirecting millions of dollars of taxpayer funds from the purposes they were intended,” said Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge, USDA-OIG. “We would like to thank U.S. Attorney’s Office for aggressively prosecuting perpetrators of fraud and sending a strong message that illegally profiting by defrauding USDA programs will not be tolerated.”
“This investigation was a great example of partnership and cooperation between our Department and federal authorities,” said Georgia Department of Human Services Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden. “DHS has zero tolerance for fraud, waste and abuse in the programs it administers. After internal efforts to detect fraud, DHS was able to work with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in bringing these individuals to justice. Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens need these valuable resources, and we are committed to ensuring the integrity of SNAP in Georgia.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: From July 2014 through October 2015, Jonathan and Stephanie Dupiton owned and operated two convenience stores in Cobb County, Georgia; J. Good Groceries in Mableton, and Stephanie’s Groceries in Austell. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service manages and funds SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, with the purpose of alleviating hunger and malnutrition among low-income families. The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) administers the SNAP program.
The defendants used stolen identities to apply for SNAP benefits instead of accepting SNAP benefits from qualified recipients to purchase food. These SNAP benefits were loaded on EBT cards, which are similar to debit cards. The defendants directed DHS to mail hundreds of EBT cards to addresses they controlled. The Dupitons then collected and swiped the fraudulent SNAP cards at their convenience stores. Over $800,000 in SNAP payments were deposited in the defendants’ bank accounts. DHS and USDA were able to link $395,000 of those funds to 321 fraudulent SNAP accounts.
Jonathan Dupiton, 28, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, nine months in prison, and Stephanie Dupiton, 24, also of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to six months in prison. Both defendants were also sentenced to three years of supervised release, a special assessment of $100, and ordered to pay $395,388.01 in restitution. Both defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in April 2017, after pleading guilty to these charges. Jonathan Dupiton was also convicted of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General and the Georgia Department of Human Services investigated this case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at [email protected]<m