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WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts businesswoman has been sentenced to eight months in prison for defrauding the federal government of nearly $300,000 in a cash-for-food stamps scheme.

Esther Acquaye, who owned Esther’s Fashion Paradise in Worcester, was also sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered to pay about $285,000 in restitution.

Federal prosecutors say the 49-year-old Acquaye paid some customers 50 cents for every Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollar and received the full value of the benefits from the government.

The Telegram & Gazette reports that she was also rebuked by a federal prosecutor who admonished her for involving her minor son in the scheme.

The government argued for a longer sentence, while Acquaye’s defense argued unsuccessfully for home arrest.

Acquaye’s attorney called the sentence “very fair.”


Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.),