A former Washington, D.C., employee pled guilty to federal bribery charges for distributing $1.4 million in food stamp and temporary assistance benefits to individuals in exchange for $380,000 and sexual favors.

Demetrius McMillan pled guilty March 14 following a yearlong investigation into federal fraud charges. McMillan had worked at the D.C. Department of Human Services for 13 years, and court documents show that the criminal conduct began last year, according to The Washington Post.

FBI | Demetrius McMillan, an employee at the D.C. Department of Human Services, faces bribery charges after he allegedly traded food stamps and welfare benefits in exchange for cash and sexual favors.

Between April and July 2018, McMillan made 779 fraudulent assistance payments to approximately 305 beneficiaries, 296 of whom were women. Authorities found text messages between McMillan and 50 of the women soliciting sexual favors as payment, according to a March 14 news release by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

McMillan also solicited more than $380,000 in cash commissions from those who received his payments, and accepted at least $150,000, according to the news release.

McMillan could spend nine to 11 years in prison, an estimation in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. McMillan’s sentencing is set to occur in June, and he has already agreed to pay $1.46 million in restitution, according to NBC News.

The case is currently being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the D.C. Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to discern if McMillan abused his authority in any other capacities. Investigators announced publicly they will not comment at this time on whether new charges will be brought to light. Whether recipients of fraudulent payments will be held liable for any criminal offense remains unclear.

McMillan’s case occurred two weeks after another former federal employee was charged with fraud in late February. Gary T. Holliday, who also worked at the Department of Human Services, pled guilty to a federal wire fraud charge. Holliday fraudulently channeled the $400,000 to himself from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a program that assists families for a limited time when guardians are unable to provide for their children’s basic needs, according to The Washington Post.

Both former employees manipulated the process of underpayments, in which social service workers authorized up to $2,000 in payment adjustments for clients enrolled in TANF or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.

There have been previous efforts to prevent fraudulent practices in the welfare system which have been directed towards recipients. Despite reports of SNAP fraud levels resting at 1.5 percent from a Jan. 2017 audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, D.C. initially launched a federally-funded advertising campaign in spring 2018 encouraging residents to report food-stamp fraud. However, DHS officials cancelled the campaign after receiving critiques accusing the ads of being insensitive and encouraging low-income individuals to spy on each other, according to The Washington Post.

The D.C. government plans to cooperate with investigators and takes these allegations seriously, according to Dora Taylor-Lowe, Public Information Officer of the Department of Human Services.

“The District government takes suspected abusive and fraudulent activity seriously, and will always work and cooperate with our local and federal partners to ensure that those who engage in criminal behavior are held accountable,” Taylor-Lowe wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Observers of potential fraudulent behavior should report such behavior, Taylor-Lowe wrote.

“Anyone who suspects waste, fraud or abuse should immediately contact the Office of Program Review, Monitoring, and Investigation,” Taylor-Lowe wrote.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *