WETHERSFIELD WOMAN INVOLVED IN
FOOD STAMP FRAUD SCHEME IS SENTENCED
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that LILLIAN ADAMES, 46, of Wethersfield, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to three years of probation, the first six months of which ADAMES must spend in home confinement, for her role in a food stamp fraud scheme.
The federal Food Stamp Program, which is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (“SNAP”), is administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and utilizes federal tax dollars to subsidize low-income households to provide them with the opportunity to achieve a more nutritious diet by increasing their food-purchasing power. SNAP recipients purchase eligible food items at retail food stores through the use of an EBT card, which is similar to an ATM card. SNAP 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. SNAP 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 October 2006 and March 2009, ADAMES illegally exchanged food stamps for cash, and aided and abetted her husband, Apolinar Collado, in the exchange of food stamps for cash, with customers at six small retail grocery stores in Hartford: El Querido Supermarket, El Cerrazzo Supermarket, El Ponderoso Supermarket, and Amor Supermarket, all located at 194 Mather Street at different times; Joldy Grocery, located at 60 Gillette Street; and Billy Bong Grocery, located at 679 Blue Hills Avenue. Each of the six stores were owned by persons who were “paper owners,” in that they were unconnected with the grocery stores and allowed their names to be used for ownership and licensing purposes when requested to do so by Collado or ADAMES. The paper owners were members of the community who were not paid for their assistance with regard to the six stores. Collado was the true owner of the stores.
With the exception of Joldy Grocery, all of the stores were disqualified from the Food Stamp Program on the basis of the fraud and thereafter closed their doors for business. Joldy Grocery was sold in March 2009 to a new owner.
Through this scheme, Collado, ADAMES and others defrauded the Food Stamp Program of $1,660,103.38.
In sentencing ADAMES below the sentencing guidelines range of 27 to 33 months of imprisonment, Judge Bryant noted ADAMES’s sole responsibility as the caretaker for her daughter, who has a serious medical condition.
On September 10, 2012, ADAMES pleaded guilty to one count of food stamp fraud. On June 6, 2011, Collado, who had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge, was sentenced to 57 months of imprisonment.
ADAMES and Collado have been ordered to pay full restitution.
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah R. Slater.
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