A Glendale, Arizona, couple have been sentenced for their involvement in a $2.3 million dollar food stamp fraud case. According to KJZZ, Bernard Barizoedu Le-Uh, 44, and his wife Monica, 33, pleaded guilty to multiple fraud charges including conducting fraudulent schemes and artifices, money laundering, and unlawful use of food stamps.
According to the investigative report, the couple were owners of the Nicben African Caribbean Market. They reportedly received cash payouts through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) by charging the cards for cash and splitting the proceeds with SNAP recipients.
In 2009, the couple reportedly caught the attention of local authorities when the store’s food stamp sales began skyrocketing to unprecedented amounts. The sporadic changes, estimated to be approximately $75,000 a month, definitely raised eyebrows. For those who are unaware of how outlandish the staggering amount is, AZ Central provided a detailed example to explaining why the sales were considered questionable.
“For example, in June 2010, monthly food-stamp sales were $75,000, according to the sentencing memorandum Brnovich’s office filed with the court. Meanwhile, ‘neighboring stores like CVS and Dollar Store were averaging between $3,000 and $5,000 per month,’ the memorandum states.”
— Mark Brnovich (@GeneralBrnovich) April 17, 2015
The sales led to a to a joint investigation conducted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, and the FBI. A series of undercover purchases were made at the store, which ultimately confirmed why food stamp sales were so high, reports KPHO.
Prosecutors reportedly stated that the scam took place from November of 2011 to March of 2014. During that time, the couple made approximately $2.3 million. Both have been sentenced to supervised probation. They have also been ordered to pay back the $2.3 million in restitution.
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