Maryland man gets 6 years for $1 million in fraud schemes

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Maryland man was sentenced to more than six years for a series of fraud schemes that cost victims more than $1 million. As part of his guilty plea, he agreed to pay the money back.

Robert Lee Snowden, 45, of Owings Mills was sentenced on Wednesday to 78 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and for aggravated identity theft. Snowden also was ordered to pay restitution of more than $1 million, according to Jonathan F. Lenzner, acting U.S. Attorney for Maryland.

Snowden admitted that he conspired between 2013 and 2020 to defraud the Maryland Department of Human Services and the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by using stolen identification information to obtain benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Before he was laid off from a health care business in 2011, Snowden stole lists of health care professionals’ personal information. Two years later, he used that information to apply for SNAP benefits, then used the addresses of acquaintances or nearby vacant homes for the mailing of SNAP cards, which Snowden, or someone else, would pick up from those addresses.

Snowden said he sold most of the SNAP benefit cards for cash. He and his co-conspirator, Larae Betrand, also used the SNAP cards at stores to purchase groceries for themselves. Over 220 victims’ identities were used to apply for SNAP benefits, and they were able to redeem and at least $1,021,584 through the scheme.

The plea agreement says Snowden and Betrand also engaged in a scheme to obtain fraudulent loans from banks and a credit union by providing false employment information on applications for six vehicle loans. Two were denied, but Snowden and Betrand fraudulently obtained $92,669 through four others.

During the pandemic last year, Snowden also tried to get money through the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program using the identity of at least one of the SNAP victims. Snowden did not complete the transaction before law enforcement searched his residence on July 16, 2020, authorities said.

Betrand, 39, of Elkridge, Maryland, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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