SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The operators of a Santa Ana market are under investigation in connection with an alleged $2 million food-stamp fraud scheme.
A warrant was served Wednesday at Euclid Market run by Jose Garcia Olivo and his daughter Johanna Garcia.
Police officers and federal agents were seen Wednesday collecting bags of evidence at the business on Euclid Street and McFadden Avenue.
They “have committed the offenses of food-stamp fraud, conspiracy to defraud, theft of government property, mail fraud, wire fraud, engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, tax evasion and filing a false tax return…,” according to a search warrant affidavit.
The court papers alleged Garcia and Garcia Olivo paid “individuals in cash in exchange for charging those individuals Electronic Benefit Transfer cards instead of actually selling food.”
The father and daughter were accused of paying the EBT cardholders less than what was charged to the cards and pocketing the difference.
“For example, during an undercover operation…Garcia Olivo paid $250 in cash but charged $395 on the EBT card,” the affidavit stated. “In other instances, Garcia actually used someone else’s EBT card at supermarkets and warehouse stores to make purchases for herself. Over the past several years, Garcia and Garcia Olivo have cheated the federal government out of approximately $2 million in EBT funds, including many months charging more than $100,000.”
They were also suspected of failing to accurately report hundreds of thousands of dollars of income from the scheme from 2013 through 2016.
The amounts and totals of the charges, which were unusual for a small convenience store, and the rapid depletion of cardholders’ monthly benefits aroused suspicions, according to the court documents.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office had no comment.