Four business owners are facing fraud charges after a food stamp trafficking sting.
Allen Nguyen, 37, Loan Lai, 28, Arvind Patel, 55, and Roshni Patel, 27, have all been indicted by Harris County grand juries for food stamp fraud. The felony charges come after an investigation by the DA's Office and the Office of Inspector General with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
OIG agents began investigating the individuals after a series of complaints about fraudulent use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program.
Investigators say Nguyen and Lai, owners of Danny's NL Seafood Market, and the Patels, owners of C & M Grocers, were all indicted by Harris County grand juries in July and August for their roles in stealing thousands of dollars from the federal government.
Prosecutors say the owners and the employees were illegally purchasing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) benefits off Lone Star cards for cash.
"These criminals not only steal from taxpayers but also from Texans who rely on food stamp benefits to survive," said Anderson. "We will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure those abusing the system are aggressively prosecuted and brought to justice," said DA Anderson.
Lai and Nguyen are expected to appear in court on Aug. 29. The Patels will appear in court in September.
If convicted, all four defendants face up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
To report food stamp fraud, you can call 1-800-424-9121.