Cleveland convenience store: 15 indicted for food stamp fraud by Cuyahoga Co. prosecutor

Prosecutors charge 15 for 900K in food stamp fraud
Posted at 10:12 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 12:49:08-04

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutors office has indicted 15 people at a Cleveland convenience store for allegedly engaging in $900,000 in food stamp fraud over several years.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor James Gutierrez told the indictments leveled against Home Town Grocery on Woodland Avenue were the result of an 18-month investigation involving the Inspector General's Office and the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Gutierrez said millions in food stamp fraud is being committed in Cuyahoga County every year, and is very lucrative for the criminals involved.

"This stuff goes on everyday, all the time, as we speak right now it's going on," said Gutierrez.

"What we found is that a lot of these people live in the suburbs in half million dollar houses, drive BMW's and Mercedes while their store is no bigger than my office or two offices combined."

Gutierrez believes better enforcement and identification guidelines for food stamp cards at the federal level is needed.

"All that you need right now is the pin number and someone else, who is not the authorized user, can use hundreds in food stamp dollars," said Gutierrez.

"Something as simple as putting your ID and picture on your EBT card would help tremendously.  This way clerk can check to see if the right person is using those tax dollars."

Those indicted are facing a series of felony charges, and if convicted, could be sentenced to anywhere from 2 to 6 year for each offense.