Convenience Store Owner Sentenced For $1M in Food Stamp Fraud

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A New Jersey grocery store owner was sentenced to two years in federal prison after stealing more than $1.1 million in food stamps.

NJ.com reports, Charles Silva, the 33-year-old owner of the Checkpoint Mini Mart in Elizabeth, appeared in U.S. District Court last week and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Stanley R. Chesler, who imposed the sentence, ordered Silva to forfeit $370,000 and pay restitution of $990,000 U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.

Authorities said Checkpoint was authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chesler, the authorities said, knew the benefits were only to be accepted for food purchases, and could not be exchanged for cash.

However, over a period of 12 months, from June 2015 through May 2016, Chelser and others under his supervision illegally permitted recipients of SNAP benefits to exchange the stamps at Checkpoint Mini Mart for cash rather than food, according to federal authorities.

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