Guilty plea in food-stamp fraud case

Posted: August 16, 2012

When undercover federal agents visited Aunty Florence's West African Market in Darby in 2010, they found the owner willing to illegally exchange food-stamp benefits for cash.

Florence Kingsley, 59, of Darby, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal district court to food-stamp fraud.

A Liberian national, Kingsley fled that country in 1992 amid a civil war and was given asylum here. In 2007, she opened a small food store and sold spices, fruits, vegetables and meats.

The feds became suspicious of Kingsley after she sought monthly payment for authorized food-stamp sales greater than the annual $80,000 estimate she gave in a 2008 application to participate in the program.

Visits to Kingsley's market by undercover agents in 2010 confirmed Kingsley was willing to engage in bogus food-stamp transactions, the plea memo said.

On June 29, 2010, Charmeka Parker, an agent with the Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General, asked Kingsley if she would give her cash in lieu of benefits stored on an "agency-controlled" PaAccess card.

Kingsley gave Parker $120 cash in exchange for $200 worth of food-stamp benefits, the plea memo said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Floyd Miller said Kingsley bilked the government program - now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - of more than $295,000 between 2008 and 2011.

Defense attorney Robert C. Keller said the loss was less than $100,000. U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell set sentencing for Nov. 19.

Contact Michael Hinkelman at 215-854-2656 or hinkelm@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @mhinkelman.

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