Monday, November 9, 2015

Lunching in Lawrence

Little early but.... help0s clear my plate:

"Two men plead guilty to EBT card fraud in Lawrence" by Sarah Roberts Globe Correspondent  November 06, 2015

Two men have pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal food stamps program out of $1.5 million through a convenience store in Lawrence, the Essex district attorney’s office announced Thursday.

Cristian Pena, 44, owner of the Bonao Market store, pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court on Wednesday to trafficking in Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, benefits; larceny over $250; and money laundering. Judge Mary-Lou Rup sentenced him to four to six years in prison, the office of District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett said in a statement.

Pena is a national of the Dominican Republic and will be deported after completing his sentence.

Ramon Pena, 67, father of Cristian and a clerk at Bonao Market, pleaded guilty to trafficking in EBT benefits, larceny over $250, and unlicensed possession of a firearm, the district attorney’s office said. Rup ordered him placed on probation for two years.

A case against another clerk at Bonao Market, Esperanza Ortiz, was dismissed as part of a plea agreement, Blodgett’s office said.

The district attorney’s office maintained that the two Penas trafficked at least $990,000 in SNAP benefits over three years.

Blodgett’s office said that trafficking food stamp benefits involves a merchant paying a person for their food stamps benefits, then using the benefits to obtain money from the federal government.

“This is not a victimless crime,” Blodgett said in the statement. “We all pay the price when the greedy few defraud the taxpayers out of scarce public resources that are meant to feed, house and clothe our most needy residents. Working with our federal partners, we will continue to investigate and prosecute this type of fraud.” 

Some, of course, are too big to jail because doing such a thing would destroy the economic $y$tem, or are war-profiteers and thus paid cost overruns plus. 

I'm not excusing fraud and thievery, I'm just drawing a compari$on when it comes to government enforcement.

The investigation began in June 2012 as officials conducted uncover purchases, reviewed SNAP transaction records, and analyzed the finances of several Lawrence convenience stores, including Bonao Market.

Wasting scarce public resources? No rapes or murders in Lawrence?

Investigators found Bonao Market carried out $1.5 million in SNAP transactions, the majority of which were valued at over $100, the district attorney’s office said. Because of the low inventory and small size of Bonao Market, investigators believe it would be almost impossible to buy $100 in groceries from the store.

Investigators also found that the store spent much less on inventory than the $300,000 it had in its operating account.

In June 2015, officials raided four Lawrence convenience stores and arrested six people, including Cristian and Ramon Pena.

During the raid of Bonao Market in June, authorities found that Ramon Pena was keeping a firearm in the store that he was not licensed to carry, according to authorities.


Article kind of ending with a bang, huh?