Federal prosecutors are accusing both the owner and the manager of a convenience store in Guam of committing food stamp fraud.
Singeo I. Singenes, the owner and operator of S & I Mart, and Innocencia Esirom, the store’s manager, are accused of defrauding the federal government of $490,000 by allegedly conducting fraudulent food stamp transactions, according to an indictment filed in the U.S. District Court of Guam released to the public Friday.
The November 8 indictment and other case documents had been sealed, but the court made them public Friday after authorities arrested both suspects Thursday in Agat.
Singenes and Esirom were charged with wire fraud and the unauthorized use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Both suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges during Friday’s hearing in federal court and were later released, according to court documents.
The indictment states Singenes and Esirom, committed fraud between March 2011 and September 2013 by allowing SNAP users to buy items on credit before charging them more money for the items.
They also allegedly imposed a “late fee” on their food stamp customers if they failed to pay off their balances at the start of the next month.
The two suspects are also accused of attempting to conceal the illegal transactions by processing them within minutes of other transactions, according to the indictment.
The indictment states that the store made $490,000 in wire transfers from the fraudulently redeemed benefits.
Singenes and Esirom are scheduled to appear back in court when their trial begins February 20, 2018.
Shopkeepers are not the only ones who are accused of committing food stamp fraud. A judge sentenced the leader of a fundamentalist Mormon sect to nearly five years in prison Tuesday for orchestrating an $11 million food stamp scheme.
A Ghanian national who pleaded guilty to nearly $300,000 worth of food stamp fraud faces the possibility of deportation.