Atlanta (WAOK) — Former Atlanta Public School Teacher Rashella Reed, 41, was sentenced on Wednesday to 14 years in prison for her role in the trafficking of over $8 million in governmental benefits by United States District Judge William T. Moore Jr. in Savannah, Georgia.
Thirteen others who were accused and charged in the scheme have already entered guilty pleas. Attorney for Reed, Donald Johnstono, believes that the sentence given to his client by Judge Moore is beyond excessive, given that the two women who he says were the masterminds behind the fraudulent scheme were given less that five years due to their willingness to cooperate with prosecutors and the guilty pleas that they entered. Johnstono maintains that Reed believed that she was one of many participants of a legal and legitimate investment.
Federal prosecutors say that the money laundering plot involved up to 13 grocery stores from across the state of Georgia. The grocery stores were used as fronts in order to launder money from the government that was supposed to be dispersed to the poor through government programs such as WIC and SNAP. According to prosecutors, Reed and the other participants utilized the fronts to buy SNAP benefits and WIC vouchers and paid the supposed recipients of the benefits between 10 cents and 60 cents on the dollar, while keeping the rest of the money for themselves.
Reed was found to have invested money into the Baby Spot store in Decatur and even drew a monthly check from the store, according Johnstono, and was unaware that she was involved in any illegal activity.
Written by Sherman H. Smith Jr (WAOK/Intern)