Man pleads guilty to $400,000 food stamp fraud

A Riverdale man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Atlanta to a $400,000 food stamp scheme.

Herbert Dix, 49, admitted to defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture and possessing forged Women, Infant and Children (WIC) vouchers while running a store in Griffin, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Many people rely on government assistance to feed their families and children,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in the news release. “This conviction demonstrates our commitment to prosecute those who defraud the USDA of funds meant for the neediest families.”

Dix was indicted last July on 18 counts of WIC fraud and 83 counts of possession of forged securities. He pleaded guilty to every charge, authorities said.

Dix owned and operated Spank’s Quick Stop in Griffin, and the store was authorized to redeem WIC vouchers for specified food items. Dix and his employees broke the law by paying cash for the WIC vouchers instead of taking them as payment for the food items listed on the vouchers, prosecutors said.

An undercover officer entered into illegal transactions 18 times at the store, receiving cash for blank WIC vouchers that Dix later filled in with an amount “significantly greater” than what he paid for them, authorities said. He deposited the vouchers into his bank account.

When a search warrant was executed in December 2010, more than 100 blank WIC vouchers were seized. Authorities later determined by analyzing Dix’s bank records that more than $400,000 had been fraudulently obtained from the USDA between 2010 and 2011.

Dix could receive five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 for each charge of WIC fraud. For each forged securities count, he could get a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.