(Lorain) -- The owner and manager of a deli in Lorain, plus five customers, have all been indicted by a Lorain County Grand Jury for their role in a huge food stamp fraud case, which is said to total about $600,000.
The indictments came 15 months after the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) and the Lorain Police Department began an investigation at Adames Deli and Grocery on East 31st Street in Lorain.
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Greg Croft, agent in charge of the Cleveland office of OIU, tells WTAM they had tips from people that people went into Adames Deli and Grocery with food stamps, and used them for non-qualified items including cell phone payments, or turned them in for cash, sometimes as little as 25 cents on the dollar. Croft says OIU undercover agents were able to purchase cigarettes, lighters, paper products and newspapers, none of which are eligible for food stamp purchases.
The store's out-of-state owners have been charged with one count of theft and 10 counts of illegal use of food stamps. Store manager Rafaeal Coll, 41, is charged with 10 counts of illegal food stamps. Customers Erica Perez, Lydia Vega, Monica Perez, Malivanh Phouthavong and Marlon Charley, all face one count each of illegal use of food stamps.
Croft is quick to point out the victims in food stamp fraud are the children whose parents receive food stamps, as well as taxpayers.
The charges against all the individuals are felonies. Croft says the store's ability to accept food stamps has been revoked, and the store's liquor license may also be revoked.
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