More Than $80,000 in Restitution Expected From Local Food Stamp Fraud Sting

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MCLENNAN COUNTY (May 29, 2013)--The McLennan County District Attorney’s office is expected to net more than $80,000 in taxpayer restitution due to a recent food stamp fraud sting that was executed in Waco.

The sting was orchestrated with the help of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission as well as the Texas Department of Agriculture. Both agencies monitor food stamp fraud throughout Texas.

A food mart located in the 1500 block of 15th street was the target of the sting.

Food stamp fraud in Texas circles around the Lone Star Card, Texas’ equivalency to food stamps. In Texas, merchants suspected of fraud are liable to be prosecuted federally.

Lone Star Cardholders who commit fraud are prosecuted by the State of Texas.

According to the McLennan County DA’s office, the owners of the food mart have already been issued federal indictments.

But the DA’s office is expecting to hand out 30 to 40 sealed indictments to Lone Star Cardholders across McLennan County who were using the store as an outlet to commit food stamp fraud.

District Attorney Abel Reyna says his office is more than happy to prosecute individuals who abuse their food stamp privilege. .

“Even if it's a little bit of fraud, it's too much for this office,” Reyna said.

“We're going to address this and hold these individuals responsible."

The DA’s office says the indictments will net an estimated $82,000 in taxpayer restitution.

Through an agreement, the McLennan County DA’s office is awarded $280 from the State of Texas for each food stamp fraud case they prosecute.

That money goes into a fund that can only be used for alcohol and drug awareness prevention treatment within McLennan County.

According to the McLennan County DA’s office, the fund has reportedly grown from $11,000 to $45,000 since 2011.

"It’s simple. If you're on this program, use it properly,” Reyna said.

“If you don't, there will be consequences, at least in McLennan County."