South L.A. Grocer Facing Five Years for Food Stamp Welfare Fraud

A South Los Angeles grocery store owner faces a California state prison sentence for violating California's welfare fraud laws. The man is facing four felonies all related to his acts of buying electronic food stamp cards from welfare recipients and using them to buy items such as soda, chips and candy which he was then reselling for much higher prices at his own stores. Electronic benefits cards are distributed to California welfare recipients exclusively to purchase food. As a result, it would appear that the people who supplied the cards to the accused could face charges under California's welfare fraud laws as well. At this time, however, prosecutors have only filed the charges against the store owner. Although it doesn't appear that this is the case in this instance, welfare fraud that involves electronically transferred benefits can lead to substantial prison time if the transfer of benefits exceeds $50,000. If the accused doesn't have a criminal history, it is likely that his California criminal defense attorney could negotiate a plea bargain that would allow him to reimburse the state for the cost of the benefits and face a much less severe penalty – possibly something along the lines of a petty theft conviction rather than one for outright fraud.

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