Mother, daughters sent to prison, ordered to pay $722,149 restitution in food stamp scheme.

January 13, 2017

Mother, daughters sent to prison, ordered to pay $722,149 restitution in food stamp scheme.

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GRAND RAPIDS — A Shelby woman and her two daughters were sentenced to prison in federal court and ordered to pay $722,149 in restitution for a food stamp scheme at the Shelby store, La Fortuna Carniceria.

Cruz Gonzalez, who owned the store, was recently sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $722,149 to the Department of Agriculture by U.S. District Court Judge Gordon J. Quist, according to US Attorney Patrick Miles.

Gonzalez’s daughter, Fabiola Garcia, was recently sentenced to 20 months in prison and also ordered to pay $722,149 in restitution.

Gonzalez and Garcia were two of three conspirators convicted in the conspiracy. The third, Gisela Mendoza, also Gonzalez’s daughter, was sentenced in November to six months in prison; two months of home detention; and $722,149 in restitution. Both daughters worked at the store.

“They conspired to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, by illegally exchanging SNAP benefits for cash, cell phones, and other ineligible items at La Fortuna Carniceria in Shelby. The total amount of fraud was determined to be $722,149, covering the period of February 2008 through January 2014,” according to Miles.

“The federal government cannot tolerate the theft of federal program benefits meant to aid low income individuals meet daily nutritional needs,” Miles said. “Such theft undermines the public’s confidence in the SNAP program and diminishes the government’s ability to provide food assistance to those citizens most in need.”

A joint investigation led by the US Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and the Michigan State Police State, Sheriffs’, Chiefs’ Enforcement of Narcotics Team (SSCENT) resulted in the federal charges.

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