Kentucky Woman Sentenced to 66 Months in Jail in Food Stamp Fraud Case

August 8, 2017 Updated: August 8, 2017

A Kentucky woman was sentenced Thursday to 66 months in prison over a massive case of food stamp fraud. 

Phyllis Tyler, 49, was sentenced on Aug. 3, for conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, food stamp fraud, and four counts of money laundering by U.S. District Court Judge David L. Bunning, WCPO reported

The sentence came nearly three years to the day since Tyler was first arrested after she finally pleaded guilty to the charges in court. 

The fact that Tyler had committed the fraud was so obvious that a federal prosecutor on Thursday said the government was surprised her case even went to trial, according to River City News. 

During the long, drawn-out trial she made a number of false claims, including that the cops were targeting her due to racism. But after one lie fell apart, another was concocted, River City News reported.

Prosecutors found Tyler’s food stamp fraud totalled $408,979. On four occasions Tyler also transferred more than $10,000 in food stamp fraud proceeds through a financial institution, violating statutes on federal money laundering.

Tyler operated A&E Fashion and Beauty Supply LLC, a convenience store in Covington, Kentucky, that accepted food stamps. 

Between Jan. 2, 2012 and June 26 2015, Tyler made cash purchases of food stamp benefits from beneficiaries, only paying half the value of the benefits actually on the EBT cards, according to evidence given at the trial. 

She then redeemed the cards at her own store, receiving the full benefits from the transaction, triggering a reimbursement for the sale from the federal government directly into her business bank account. She also used the cards she bought with cash at other retailers to buy items for her personal use and her store. 

Tyler must serve 85 percent of her prison sentence and after being released, must serve another three years of probation. 

Her behavior during the investigation and legal proceedings were described as “destructive” a federal prosecutor said. She even intimidated a witness in Cincinnati, resulting in her having her bond revoked, according to River City News. 

But that’s not the worst of what she did to try and get out of the legal case. Tyler also created a fraudulent meat business to mislead the court and tried to blame her crime on an innocent man who was shown in court to be unable to use the EBT machine at her store. 

Her actions during the trial ultimately extended her sentence, according to River City News. If she had simply pleaded guilty at the very beginning, she could have been sentenced to as little as 37 months in prison. 

Tyler was found guilty of all fraud charges by a federal jury in January this year.