UPDATE: C-Store Owners Plead Guilty in Food Stamp Fraud Case
BOSTON -- Two former convenience store owners pleaded guilty in federal court on charges related to a three-year food stamp scam.
Jorge Martinez, 40, of Springfield, Mass., and Kathleen Lamson, 57, of Enfield, Conn. -- the one-time owners of L&M Market in Holyoke -- pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to one count of conspiracy, multiple counts of food stamp fraud, one count each of engaging in monetary transactions and multiple counts of wire fraud, according to a news release from the investigating agencies.
The government's case included evidence that Martinez and Lamson conspired to commit food stamp fraud by unlawfully purchasing benefits from food stamp recipients at a discounted cash value, and causing the full value of the food stamp benefits to be electronically transferred into a Connecticut bank account in both of their names. To provide customers with cash for the food stamp benefits, Martinez and Lamson would withdraw large amounts of cash from this bank account and engaged in monetary transactions to purchase two vehicles using the funds received from the food stamp fraud scheme.
The pair will be sentenced on Oct. 18, and each faces up 20 years in prison for food stamp fraud and wire fraud counts, up to 10 years in prison on the money laundering counts, and up to five years in prison for the conspiracy count. Martinez and Lamson also face a three-year term of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each of the counts.
U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Brian L. Haaser, special agent in charge of the Northeast Region for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); and William P. Offord, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Office, Criminal Investigation, Boston Field Office; made the announcement today. The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for the USDA and IRS Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Dineen Jerrett, of Ortiz's Health Care Fraud Unit.