DEDHAM, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) – A Quincy store owner has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail in connection with the unlawful use of EBT cards and defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known commonly as "food stamps."
Pat Lu, 49, pleaded guilty Thursday on charges of larceny over $250, procurement fraud, and access device fraud. A judge then sentenced Lu to two-and-a-half years in the House of Correction, with 10 years probation to serve upon completion of his sentence. The judge also ordered Lu to pay $250,000 in restitution. He has already forfeited $60,000 which was seized from his bank account.
The investigation into the fraudulent use of EBT cards began in November 2011 after a referral from the Quincy Police Department.
Following an investigation, authorities executed a search warrant at Lotto Luck (D.B.A. Pat's Mini Mart) in Quincy.
Investigators arrested Lu, the store owner, on April 19, 2012 in connection with is involvement in the ongoing criminal scheme. He was indicted on July 2, 2012.
Pat's Mini Mart was authorized to accept EBT cards from customers for eligible items; however, Lu and another store clerk would swipe the customer's EBT card and enter fraudulent information indicating that a customer purchased groceries. Lu or the clerk would then give cash to the customer for a half of what was charged to their EBT card account.
Lu also made an illegal profit by allowing customers to use their SNAP benefits to purchase cigarettes.
In the months before his arrest, Pat's Mini Mart was transacting about $70,000 per month in mostly fraudulent SNAP sales. It is estimated that Lu's cut each month resulted in roughly $30,000. Between October 2010 and April 2012, Pat's Mini Mart processed approximately $800,000 worth of fraudulent SNAP transactions.
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