California C-store Owners Plead Guilty to Food Stamp Fraud

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Two convenience store owners/operators charged with defrauding the government and taxpayers out of $193,608 in food stamp benefits each pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized use of food stamps, News10/KXTV reported.

Sukhwinder Singh, 54, and Charan Singh Dhillon, 58, admitted that beginning in 2007, they began to illegally buy food stamps for cash, typically at 50 cents on the dollar. As part of the plea deal reached with federal prosecutors, Singh and Dhillon forfeited more than $90,000 in cash and a BMW, according to Lauren Horwood, spokeswoman for the U.S. District Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California.

Singh owns Fast and Easy Mart; Dhillon owns Quick and Stop Mart; and the two are co-owners of Quick Stop Mart, all in Stockton. All three stores had been approved to redeem food stamps.

The men will appear before a U.S. district judge July 14 for sentencing, the report stated. They face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, Horwood said.