Over 15 months ago, someone called in a complaint that a Lorain business was allowing people to purchase non-food items with a food stamp card. The subsequent investigation has now led to several arrests for fraud after an investigation by the Ohio Department of Public Safety Investigative Unit. According to investigators, the business was allowing people to purchase forbidden items such as cigarettes and alcohol with food stamp cards.
Investigators sent a confidential informant into the store to see if they would be able to purchase non-food items. The confidential informant was able to make such purchases. In addition, five people who were arrested as a result of the investigation have admitted they fraudulently used food stamp cards.
The Ohio Investigative Unit presented evidence to the Lorain County Grand Jury alleging that the store’s operator had been involved in a food stamp fraud scheme for nearly three years and had defrauded the system for approximately $582,000. After all of the evidence was presented to the grand jury, they indicted the store operator on 10 counts of fraudulently using food stamp cards. The owner of the store claims to not have known about the scheme and has not been charged.
The store’s operator now has the unenviable task of defending himself against these charges. Even though he is innocent until proven guilty, he may have an uphill, but not impossible, battle to fight in court. He will need to not only review the physical evidence in the case, but will also need to scrutinize the testimony of the confidential informant and the five people who have admitted to being complicit in food stamp fraud in order to mount the best defense possible.
Source: The Chronicle-Telegram, “Lorain business charged in fraud operation,” Chelsea Miller, May 25, 2013