The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 17, 2014

Woman admits to EBT fraud

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — A Maquoketa woman admitted in court Thursday to defrauding the Food and Nutritional Service, the state of Iowa and the Clinton County Department of Human Services during part of 2010 and 2011.

Vickie M. Bragg, 40, pleaded guilty to second-degree fraudulent practices, a class D felony. She told District Court Judge Henry Latham that between Oct. 14, 2010, and March 29, 2011, she used an Electric Benefit Transfer machine to purchase groceries for herself and her friends.

According to court documents, Bragg received $7,449 that she was not entitled to. The affidavit continues that during the previously mentioned time period, she told the FNS, state of Iowa and DHS that she had opened a candy store at 103 Sixth Ave. South and was authorized to accept EBT as a method of payment for specific merchandise using the Food Assistance Program.

However, an investigation established that the defendant rented part of the building at that location but never actually opened the business, according to the affidavit. Court records state that Bragg used her own EBT — through which she received food assistance for her household — as well as those from certain other individuals, to falsely electronically bill the U.S. government for products that were never actually sold.

The defendant swiped the select EBT cards through the store processor and immediately withdrew the money from the retailer bank account, assuring that she received cash from the transactions, according to the affidavit. She would then use her store processor to refund the various EBT cards, so she could illegally receive both the cash and the food assistance benefit, according to court documents.

Court documents continue that Bragg requested and accepted reimbursement payments from the FNS totaling $5,702. By failing to report this amount to DHS and illegally using her EBT card, she also received $1,747 in food assistance from DHS. With both of these amounts, the affidavit stated Bragg received $7,499 she did not have coming to her.

A Class D felony, the charge could carry as much as five years in prison and a fine of between $750 and $7,500. However, the state is recommending a suspended sentence as part of the plea agreement, which the court will be bound by.

Bragg’s sentencing is set for 11 a.m. June 27.

Samantha Pidde can be contacted at samanthapidde@clintonherald.com.