States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|June 1, 2011||
HARTFORD MAN SENTENCED TO 21 MONTHS IN FEDERAL
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that FERNANDO ANTONIO COLLADO, 57, a citizen of the Dominican Republic and a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. residing in Hartford, was sentenced yesterday, May 31, by United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to 21 months of imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release, for being aware of an extensive food stamp fraud scheme that he failed to report to federal law enforcement. On March 7, 2011, COLLADO pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony.
The federal Food Stamp Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and utilizes federal tax dollars to subsidize low-income households, affording such households the opportunity to achieve a more nutritious diet by increasing their food-purchasing power. Food Stamp recipients purchase eligible food items at retail food stores through the use of an EBT card, which is similar to an ATM card. Food Stamp benefits may be accepted by authorized retailers only in exchange for eligible items. Items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, paper goods and soaps are not eligible for purchase with Food Stamp benefits, and it is a violation of the rules and regulations governing the food stamp program to allow benefits to be used to purchase ineligible items. Food stamp benefits may not lawfully be exchanged for cash under any circumstances. The program is designed so that the total amount of each purchase is electronically transferred to the retailer’s designated bank account.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately October 2003 and February 2009, COLLADO’s brother, Apolinar Collado, engaged in a scheme to defraud the Food Stamp Program by operating six different Hartford grocery stores through the use straw owners. Four of the six stores – El Querido Supermarket, El Cerrazo Supermarket, El Ponderoso Supermarket, and Amor Supermarket – operated at 194 Mather Street at various times between November 2003 and September 2006. At each of the stores, Apolinar Collado exchanged, or authorized the exchange of, food stamps for cash and other ineligible items to his customers. FERNANDO COLLADO was aware that food stamp fraud was rampant at his brother’s four retail grocery stores at 194 Mather Street, and also at Sandra Supermarket of 194 Mather Street, which he managed between December 2006 and October 2007.
Each of the five 194 Mather Street grocery stores was disqualified from the Food Stamp Program.
In total, this scheme has defrauded the Food Stamp Program of approximately $1.6. million.
On February 25, 2011, Apolinar Collado pleaded guilty to one count of Food Stamp fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, with the assistance of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah R. Slater.
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