Florida small business owners often run all aspects of their company, whether they own a brick-and-mortar establishment or conduct sales and other operations online. Both internal and external transactions are usually tracked by one or more owners of a business; however, when those owners conspire to commit fraud, the results may have negative and far-reaching legal consequences.
Such is the case for a Florida husband and wife who ran several convenience store locations in Jacksonville, as both business owners now face a hefty jail sentence for fraudulent transactions relating to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
The fraud occurred over several years
According to the Tampa Free Press, the couple received permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in SNAP as a way to assist their low-income local customers with purchasing healthy food. Once approved, the couple instructed their employees to fraudulently ring up charges for food purchased on the program’s Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. Over the course of more than two years, the couple pocketed more than $250,000.
Employees also sentenced
Records related to this fraud case also reveal that a dozen other people, mostly employees of the convenience stores, were also charged with fraud and ordered to repay the funds the store owners shared with them. Most pleaded guilty and must now repay nearly $250,000 as well. The arrests of both the store owners and the employees occurred under an ongoing investigation into SNAP fraud in the Jacksonville area.
Both husband and wife received identical sentences of 18 months in prison, as well as the order to pay restitution to the United States government. Currently, it is unclear whether the convenience stores are still in operation.