A U.S. District Court judge sentenced a Ghanian national convicted of carrying out a $300,000 food stamp fraud scheme to eight months behind bars Friday.
The judge sentenced Esther Acquaye, 49, to eight months in prison, three years of probation, and ordered her to repay the federal government $285,000, the Associated Press reported.
The Telegram & Gazette reported that at the sentencing hearing, a prosecutor blasted her for getting her son, a minor, involved in her scheme and called for a stiff 29-month sentence to deter would-be food stamp fraudsters.
The woman’s defense attorney, Blake Rubin, unsuccessfully argued for house arrest but said the sentence was “very fair” after the hearing.
Although the judge sentenced Acquaye to three years of probation after her jail time is up, Rubin said she might face deportation after she serves her sentence for having a felony conviction.
Acquaye, a Ghanian national on a green card, pleaded guilty in December to conducting a scheme where she traded food stamp recipients’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for 50 cents on the dollar at her store, Esther’s Fashion Paradise in Worcester. She then redeemed the full value of the benefits from the federal government.