Last Modified: Friday, August 17, 2012 2:29 PM
A federal judge gave prison sentences to two Lake Charles brothers who participated in a food stamp scheme that bilked the federal government out of $2.7 million.
Prior to announcing the sentences, federal Judge Patricia Minaldi had an extended courtroom conversation with Craig M. Nash before imposing a six-and-a-half year prison term on him and ordering him to pay $1.7 million in restitution. Minaldi imposed a six-month prison term on Hillary Nash III and ordered him to pay $62,515 in restitution.
The brothers’ sister, Rosalyn Mary Hillard, was given probation.
All were indicted in May 2011 on 26 counts for conspiracy, wire fraud and food stamp fraud.
Craig Nash owned Goodfellas and Goodfellas II stores. His siblings each worked at the stores.
Prior to receiving his sentence, Craig Nash told Minaldi his crime did “not harm physically.”
Minaldi told Nash the money he took “was intended to help people who are unable to provide food for their families and you took money ... and traded it for cash, sometimes for 50 percent profit.”
The court found that the Nashes used the money to buy exotic cars.
Prior to pleading guilty, all three family members faced up to 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley said Craig Nash did not intend to defraud the government when he opened his store. He was considered the ringleader of the scheme.
“It (the fraud) began shortly after he started participating in the food stamp program. He initially got a civil sanction,” she said.
Finley said private business owners should be wary of participating in fraud.
“We are watching. We are not going to allow this,” she said.
The family’s attorney, Todd Clemons, said the sentences could have been stiffer.
“It was appropriate considering they did admit to the wrong,” he said.
Clemons also said the cars (a Mercedes Benz, a Porsche and others) were “not nearly as nice as they look on paper. The retail value on them was not high.”
Federal officials would not comment on the food stamp recipients who went to the store to purchase beer, cigarettes and other goods at prices higher than their value. That investigation is still ongoing.
Posted By: Ann On: 8/17/2012
Sentences could have also possibly been less stiff. When the judge has an extended conversation with you prior to sentencing, show some REMORSE. Don't continue to defend your conduct, didn't physically harm ,and lie, save failing business???