A Springfield convenience store owner was arrested Thursday, accused of unlawfully using Electronic Benefit (EBT) cards and defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
CBS 3 cameras were rolling outside the Bethania's Fish and Meat Market on Main Street in the North End as State Police investigated Thursday evening.
According to State Attorney General Martha Coakley, the store owner, Julio Rodriguez, 55, allowed customers using SNAP benefits to illegally exchange their food stamps for cash.
Rodriguez's arrest came after State Police assigned to the AG's Office executed a search warrant. The AG's Gaming Enforcement Division, the AG's Digital Evidence Lab, and Springfield officials assisted in the execution of the search warrant.
In last few months of this scheme, authorities allege that Bethania's had been transacting roughly $30,000 per month in EBT sales. Nearly two-thirds of those transactions each month were for purchases of more than $75 and are indicative of fraudulent activity.
State police also confiscated 10 illegal gaming machines from the store.
He was in arraigned in Springfield District Court Friday morning where he pleaded not guilty to charges of larceny over $250, food stamp trafficking and unlawful operation of a gaming device.
Rodriguez was released on personal recognizance with the condition that he surrender his passport.
His case was continued until Feb. 18 for a pre-trial conference.
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