JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A number of local convenience store owners and food stamp recipients were arrested after a welfare fraud investigation.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Department of Social Services and New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, completed a three month long investigation.
An undercover agent was able to buy hundreds of dollars worth of unauthorized items like beer, liquor, cigarettes, chewing tobacco and gasoline with an Electronic Benefits Card at three different businesses in Gloversville. Those businesses included Country Farms on South Main Street, The Fulton Street Deli, and Primos Pizza Pasta and Deli.
“This is something that sends a message to businesses out there that were not going to circumvent the rules of the EBT or welfare unit as far as what benefits should be used for,” Chad Brown, District Attorney in Fulton County, said.
“We don’t want to put a complete negative spin on the program because we do have a lot of families in our county who depend on those benefits,” Kristina Ruggeri, Chief of the Fulton County DSS Welfare Fraud Unit, said.
Both the sheriff and the DA are also hoping this will help in the fight against drug abuse since many of these people are either exchanging the cards for cash or spending what money they have saved up to buy drugs.