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FBI Busts 9, Including 2 From New Rochelle in SNAP Benefit Trafficking Scheme

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FBI Busts 9, Including 2 From New Rochelle in SNAP Benefit Trafficking Scheme

June 26, 2015 - 03:57
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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Marsha Ralph, 38, and Jason Bryce, 42, of New Rochelle, New York were among a group of 9 New York area residents arrested today by the FBI in in connection with a food stamp fraud scheme. The defendants were presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Debra Freeman.

Harry Fletcher, an an HRA Eligibility Specialist working for the New York City Human Resources Administration solicited accepted cash payments in exchange for issuing SNAP benefits to numerous individuals, including the remaining charged defendants. Fletcher’s job involved evaluating the issuance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) benefits for New York City residents,

“Harry Fletcher allegedly stole directly from the tables of some of the most vulnerable of our citizens, pocketing and misusing federal aid resources meant to help the less fortunate New York City residents feed their families,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court Fletcher approached two landlords in 2009 and offered to provide them with monthly SNAP benefits in return for reoccurring payments of hundreds of dollars in bribes. The two landlords, who have since plead guilts, agreed to pay the bribes and, as a result, received tens of thousands of dollars of SNAP benefits for which they were not eligible from 2009 through 2015.

The two landlords then recruited other individuals to take part in the scheme – including, but not limited to, the other defendants charged in the complaint – each of whom obtained monthly SNAP benefits arranged by Fletcher, and without regard to whether the applicant qualified for such benefits, in return for continual bribes.

In total, Fletcher accepted more than $20,000 in bribes for improperly approving over $240,000 in SNAP benefits to the two landlords and the remaining defendants.  The applicants bribing Fletcher were ineligible for SNAP benefits.

Fletcher, 44, of the Bronx, New York, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of solicitation and receipt of bribes, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; one count of honest services fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of theft of government funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. 

The following defendants were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and one count of theft of government funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison:

  • Stanley Hill, 48, Walkill, New York,
  • Kareem Washington, 34, White Plains, New York
  • James Ford, 52, Jamaica, New York
  • Kenneth Williamson, 51, the Bronx, New York   
  • Marsha Ralph, 38, New Rochelle, New York
  •  Jason Bryce, 42, New Rochelle, New York
  • Kevin Whyte, 30, Wappingers Falls, New York
  • Yesenia Velazquez, 37, the Bronx, New York     
  • Joseph Bull , 39, the Bronx, New York