The owners of an Ohio butcher shop are accused of carrying out a $3.5 million food stamp fraud scheme over eight years.
Federal investigators raided Busch’s Country Corner in Cincinnati on Thursday after obtaining a search warrant to collect security camera recordings, financial records, and electronic communications as evidence of potential fraud, WCPO reported.
Federal documents state that store owners Michael and Amanda Busch trafficked $3.5 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and traded them for cash beginning in January 2010, and carried out the SNAP fraud scheme for the next eight years.
Investigators say Michael Busch’s brother Randall had also taken part in the scheme. All three suspects could face a number of food stamp fraud charges—including conspiracy to defraud the U.S., wire fraud, unauthorized use of SNAP benefits, access device fraud, and theft of public money.
Investigators began an investigation into Busch’s Country Corner—a store specializing in turkey, chicken, and smoked meats—in April 2017 when an informant claimed that the store had been trading SNAP benefits for cash. Investigators say the store conducted 2,167 SNAP transactions a month from October 2010 to March 2018, totaling $60,151.00. Similar businesses conducted an average of 868 SNAP transactions a month, totaling $21,807.
All three suspects reside in Sunman, Indiana, where authorities have conducted searches of two homes in the area, according to search warrant documents.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that food stamp fraud cost taxpayers $560 million last year. Some of the biggest food stamp fraud busts of 2017 ranged in the tens of millions of dollars.