Paul McMahon, Sun Sentinel, September 14, 2012
During the time that Brenda Charlestain committed nearly $24,000 worth of food stamp fraud, prosecutors said she spent money on plastic surgery, an expensive car stereo system and a bright pink custom paint job for her 2008 Dodge Charger.
Brenda Charlestain testified Thursday that the $9,187 worth of cosmetic enhancements, the $1,100 sound system and the other splurges were all gifts from men she met working as a dancer at adult entertainment clubs in West Palm Beach and Miami.
Charlestain, 28, of Greenacres, claimed she was homeless and out of work when she applied for food stamps to feed herself and her five children, prosecutors said. She received $900 to $1,100 worth of aid per month between March 2010 and June 2012, court records show.
She later admitted that during some of that time she made more than $85,000 a year working only for tips. She also paid more than $1,200 in monthly rent payments and $326 a month in car payments.
Earlier this year, Charlestain pleaded guilty to federal charges of food stamp fraud and providing a firearm to a convicted felon her husband Josny Charlestain.
On Thursday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, U.S. District Judge William Zloch sentenced Brenda Charlestain to 1 1/2 years in federal prison. She has to surrender by Nov. 30 and must eventually repay the $23,965 worth of food stamps she received.