A former Georgia educator serving 14 years in prison for fraud is home with her family after having her sentence commuted by President Donald Trump.
Rashella Reed, an Atlanta Public Schools teacher, was one of five nonviolent offenders granted clemency by the president on Wednesday, according to the White House.
“Ms. Reed is a model inmate, and many attest to her innate ability to encourage and uplift others despite her circumstances,” officials said in a statement. “Ms. Reed accepts full responsibility for her actions and seeks to continue to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Reed was tried and convicted in 2013 for her role in an $8 million food stamp scam in which prosecutors said she and several others conspired to launder millions in tax-payer funded food stamp and WIC (or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) benefits, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Investigators said she ran a storefront in the metro-Atlanta suburb of Decatur where welfare recipients swapped their benefits for cash.
It was one of 13 “pretend” grocery stores used as a front to illegally purchase government benefits with locations across Georgia, including Atlanta, Savannah, Macon and Columbus.
“Food Stamp and WIC recipients were paid anywhere from $.10 to $.60 on the dollar for their benefits; Reed and other conspirators pocketed the rest,” prosecutors said.
The masterminds behind the scheme planned to expand to other states before federal authorities busted the operation, according to the DOJ. In all, 16 defendants were charged and/ three were convicted.
While serving her sentence, White House officials said Reed used her background in education to tutor fellow inmates and facilitate children’s programs at the prison. The former teacher served six years of her 14-year sentence before being released to home confinement this week.
“In light of the decisions these individuals have made following their convictions to improve their lives and the lives of others while incarcerated, the President has determined that each is deserving of an Executive Grant of Clemency,” according to the White House.