By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Darby, Delaware county woman, who says she fled her native Liberia two decades ago to escape civil war there, has now been sentenced to 21 months in prison here for food stamp fraud. The fraud cost the government, at the very least, well over $200,000.

Federal prosecutor Floyd Miller says 59-year-old Florence Kingsley, who operated Aunty Florence’s West African Food Market in Darby, gave cash to welfare recipients in exchange for their food stamp benefits.

“A person would go in and she would take $100 in food stamp benefits and perhaps give them $60 or $70, having made $30 or $40 in the process. And so I think that’s what the judge meant when he referred to Mrs. Kingsley as having turned her store into an ATM machine because it is taking one of the electronic benefit cards and like going to a bank and getting cash out.”

Kingsley, who says she lost family in the Liberian Civil War and she was shot in the back of the head, accepted responsibility for this fraud, and told the court she lost her way and she pleaded for mercy.

Kingsley has been legally residing in the United States as a permanent resident.

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