A former investigator for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission was sentenced to federal prison for theft violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales on Friday, Aug. 9.
Melva Darlene Blakemore, 62, of Diboll, pleaded guilty on March 26, 2013 to theft of federal funds and was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone. Blakemore was also ordered to pay $27,208 in restitution.
According to information presented in court, while employed as an investigator with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, part of Blakemore’s job duties entailed her contacting individuals to advise them they could be indicted and prosecuted for receiving overpayments of benefits from federally funded programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (also known as SNAP or the food stamp program). Blakemore advised numerous beneficiaries that no charges would be filed against them if they agreed to repay the overpaid benefits directly to Blakemore in cash. Blakemore utilized this scheme on multiple occasions to obtain funds from individuals who had received overpayments.
This case was investigated by the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Office of Inspector General and the FBI, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall L. Fluke.