A former District of Columbia Department of Human Services employee has pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal $800,000 in Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits meant for the city’s poorest residents.
Forty-five-year-old Aretha Holland-Jackson, of Bowie, pleaded Friday to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She is facing a likely sentence of between nearly 3 and 3 1/2 years in prison, prosecutors said. Her sister, Allison Holland, 47, of Cheltenham, also pleaded to the conspiracy, and faces more than a year to nearly three years in prison.
Nearly half of the stolen money was supposed to go to the D.C.’s hungriest people. The District of the Columbia has the second-highest rate of families who were hungry over the course of year because they could not afford food, according to D.C. Hunger Solutions.
“As a District of Columbia employee, Aretha Holland-Jackson was supposed to provide benefits to needy families,” said said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr., “but instead she used her position of trust to steal more than $800,000 of those benefits to finance her own lifestyle.”
Holland-Jackson worked as a DHS’s social services representative. Her duties included processing applications for public assistance. She had access to DHS’s computer system and was able to open cases and activate benefits of Medicaid, food stamps, and temporary cash for needy families. Food stamps and temporary cash for families were distributed through electronic cards that could be used at ATMs.
According to prosecutors, Holland-Jackson used bogus identities and Social Security numbers to activate 23 fraudulent cases between 2011 and 2013. She and others, including her sister, then used the benefits cards associated with these fraudulent accounts to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in withdrawals from ATMs.
All told, according to the court papers, the scheme cost the District of Columbia government at least $783,876: $196,596 in fraudulent food stamp benefits, $233,227 in fraudulent TANF benefits, and $354,053 in fraudulent Medicaid benefits, among other costs.