The owners and employees of five Providence convenience stores have been charged with defrauding the food stamp program. The charges cap a two-year grand jury investigation.
Prosecutors say nine people who work for five Providence convenience stores were caught dispensing cash on food stamp cards, in violation of federal law. Typically, the food stamp recipient would make a small purchase, such as a drink and candy. He or she would ask the clerk to charge their food stamp card with an additional $80. The clerk would oblige, tacking on a surcharge that usually equaled the amount of cash received.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha said the scheme took more than $3 million out of the mouths of hungry people.
“I really find it outrageous that money that could be going to a hungry adult and in particular to a hungry child is taken out of the system,” said Neronha, “shrinking the pool of benefits that’s available.”
Three of the nine have already agreed to plead guilty. The stores allegedly involved in the scheme are Corner Store, Regency Mart, Stop & Go, Dugout and Cristina’s Market.
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