RALEIGH – A former employee at the Harnett County Department of Social Services was sentenced Friday to federal prison and also ordered to pay restitution. Lakisha Victoria McDougald of Fayetteville was sentenced to 30 months followed by three years of supervised release for theft of government funds. McDougald was also ordered to pay $233,913 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On May 11, 2021, McDougald pled guilty to the charge.
According to court documents, McDougald was employed as an income maintenance caseworker for the Department of Social Services in Harnett County. Between approximately 2014 and 2019, McDougald used state computer networks to unlawfully access the accounts of individuals who were enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. The targeted individuals were no longer eligible to collect benefits.
McDougald used her access privileges to cause food stamp EBT cards registered in the names of the beneficiaries to be sent to her home address, added false dependents to increase the monthly benefit allotment, sold the cards to others, and used the cards herself to purchase merchandise.
For example, one of McDougald’s clients in Harnett County moved to Florida, disqualifying her from receiving further SNAP benefits from the State of North Carolina. McDougald accessed the client’s account and changed the address on file to her own address, thereby causing multiple EBT cards loaded with government funds to be sent to her. Later, McDougald added three false dependents to the account to drive up the benefit amount and converted the funds for her own use.
McDougald’s unlawful activities resulted in the loss of over $200,000 in government funds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and the Harnett County Social Services Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam F. Hulbig prosecuted the case for the government.