A 35-year-old D.C. man who pleaded guilty to stealing $203,000 in food stamp funds and putting the money into his private business ventures was sentenced yesterday to serve six months in a halfway house and pay a fine of $1,000.
U.S. District Judge Oliver Gasch said in court that he wanted to sentence Wayne P. Miggins, of 1808 C St, NE, in a way that it would not interfere too much with Miggins' current employment.
Miggins currently works at a boutique he owns called "Make Someone Happy," at 3216 Georgia Ave. NW, according to court records. Federal investigators have said Miggins used a substantial part of the money he defrauded to help finance the boutique.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric B. Marcy of the fraud division had asked that Miggins be imprisoned for a "substantial" amount of time as a deterrent to others who might commit similar crimes.
U.S. Attorney Earl J. Silbert, who in the past has argued in court for lengthy prison terms for white-collar offenders, refused yesterday to comment on Gasch' sentence and refused to let members of his office comment.
However, some prosecutors indicated after the sentence - and before Silbert's "no comment" edict - that they were concerned that the sentence, along with two others of probation by another federal judge in a $100,000 plus fraud scheme Friday, may represent a reversal of a recent trend by judges here to imprison white-collar offenders.
Miggins was the owner of the Xavier Furniture Co., on North Capitol Street, when he signed a contract with the D.C. Human Resources Department to become a vendor of food stamps for the area surrounding his store.
As a part of that contract, he was required to deposit food stamp money at least every week in a separate bank account.
According to investigators, the Human Resources Department began investigating the Xavier food stamp butlet when it discovered two years later that the furniture store did not have the required surety bond.
An audit disclosed a shortage of $203,724.36 and evidence that the money had been coming led by Miggins with store funds and used for his privated ventures, investigators added.
Although Miggins pleaded guilty to a charge of larcency after trust that carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, his attorney argued that his crime was one of ignorance instead of greed and that DHR never should have given the vending contract to Miggins.
Gasch suggested that Miggins attempt to make "some degree of restitution" for the missing food stamp funds, and warned him that he would be on probation for the next five years.