Convenience stores under suspicion of food stamp fraud raided

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Dozens of federal, state and local authorities armed with search warrants descended on two northeast Houston convenience stores Tuesday.

"This is an investigation being conducted jointly by the state and the federal government," Houston Police Department Lt. J.R. Chase said.

Chase, who leads the Northeast Tactical Unit, would not elaborate about the nature of the investigation, nor would any of the federal investigators on the scene along the 3100 block of East Crosstimbers.

But Local 2 Investigates learned from sources familiar with the investigation that Tuesday's raid was the result of a months-long probe into Lone Star Card fraud.

The Lone Star Card is a welfare program designed to provide low-income individuals and families with money for food and in some cases other expenses.

A source tells Local 2 that Lone Star Card recipients were selling the cards, essentially trading them at the stores for cash. Such an activity, if true, would constitute fraud.

"More than a million dollars in fraud between these two places," the source said.

Many of the federal agents were seen wearing jackets that identified them as Special Agents with U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The search warrants were served Tuesday, around 10 a.m., at the KP Super Market at 3141 East Crosstimbers Street and Brothers Market & Meat Mart at 3134 East Crosstimbers.

According to the Harris County Clerk's office, the stores are not owned by the same company. One man was escorted in handcuffs from Brothers Market to a waiting police car near the end of the raid.

A source told Local 2 that a criminal charge is pending against the individual.

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