Fresno Bakery Ran $5M Food Stamp Laundering Scheme, Feds Allege
A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted the alleged ring leader of a Fresno food stamp laundering scheme that cost taxpayers $5 million, authorities said.
The grand jury returned a two-count indictment, charging Jorge Luis Rivera, 53 of Fresno, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud and attempted wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced in a news release.
Two other persons were previously arrested in connection with the alleged cash-for-stamps operation at El Ranchito Bakery, which is at 417 W. Shields Ave.
A Department of Justice spokeswoman told GV Wire that Evaristo Gomez and Maria Munoz, both arrested in 2020, pleaded guilty to charges on April 18 and await sentencing.
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Paid Cash for Food Stamps 2011-208: Court Documents
According to court documents, beginning in 2005, El Ranchito became authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly referred to as food stamps.
These benefits cannot be exchanged for cash but between 2011 and 2018 Rivera directed employees to exchange SNAP benefits for cash, the indictment stated. He also allegedly told employees to accept SNAP benefits for unauthorized items at the request of customers.
This case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexandre Dempsey and Joseph Barton are the prosecutors.
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