COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia man has pled guilty to stealing food stamp money, according to United States Attorney Beth Drake.
A federal judge accepted the guilty plea from Christopher O'Berry, 42, on Wednesday and will sentence him at a later date.
O'Berry was the operator of the Cynthia's Soul Food Deli off of Broad River Road. The deli was registered to receive SNAP benefits as payment for food even though SNAP is not supposed to pay for food that is already prepared. The deli also did not stock the food needed to justify the purchases that were made under SNAP.
Investigators say O'Berry allowed SNAP beneficiaries to make purchases with their food stamp money but would process the payment as larger amounts. He would then pay cash to the beneficiary and keep some of the SNAP money for himself. The money was traced to a bank account in O'Berry's name at a Woodforest National Bank.
O'Berry deposited more than $900,000 between May 2011 and December 2014. He withdrew over $100,000 and transferred over $700,000. The rest of the money was used to make small purchases for the store.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Richland County Sheriff's Department, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Office of the Inspector General assisted in the investigation.