Court Upholds Sentence For Woman Accused Of Food Stamp Fraud

MADISON, Wis. (AP) —A Wisconsin appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 10-year prison sentence for a Milwaukee woman accused of defrauding the state’s food stamp program.

Cassandra Williams, 49, worked as a support clerk in a state Food Share office in Milwaukee. Prosecutors say she fraudulently opened and renewed Food Share accounts, resulting in the program paying out more than $150,000 in benefits. A judge sentenced Williams to five years in prison and five years of extended supervision in 2012.

Circuit court judges in that case alleged that Williams, along with others, defrauded the program out of more than $350,000 over a three-year period. Williams entered an Alford plea, which isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes, to one count of food stamp fraud.

The Milwaukee County circuit court judge who sentenced her gave Williams the maximum penalty possible, describing her as greedy.

Williams argued on appeal that the sentence was excessive, pointing out that she had no prior criminal record. She said she lost her job because of the charges and has had to apply for food stamps herself, and that she was involved in a car crash while her case was pending.

The 1st District Court of Appeals in Milwaukee rejected Williams’ arguments, ruling Tuesday that the sentence was appropriate for such a serious crime.

“The record clearly shows that the circuit court properly issued its discretion,” the court wrote. “She does not … show that the circuit court fashioned its sentences on the basis of some improper or unreasonable factor. She shows only that the circuit court exercised its discretion differently than she had hoped.”

Williams’ lawyer, William Marquis, didn’t immediately respond to phone message seeking comment.

(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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