LANSING CONVENIENCE STORE OPERATOR CHARGED WITH ACCEPTING FOOD STAMPS FOR CASH, DRUGS, AND GUNS
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Five people have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to distribute crack, heroin, and marijuana; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud, and distribution of crack, heroin, and marijuana, at the J & K General Store in Lansing, Michigan, announced U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis. Those charged are James Taylor, age 48; his wife Carol Ann Taylor, age 50; her sons Philip Eugene Kendrick, age 32, and Troy Allen Howard, age 30; and Derrick John Graves, age 46. James Taylor and Derrick John Graves are additionally charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
J & K General Store in Lansing, Michigan, is owned by James Taylor and Carol Ann Taylor. The indictment (Link to Indictment) alleges that James Taylor, Carol Ann Taylor, and their employees, exchanged cash, crack, heroin, marijuana, and firearms for SNAP benefits from about January 2009 to about May 25, 2011. SNAP benefits, formerly known as “food stamps,” are provided to those in need through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS). SNAP benefits are no longer provided through the use of paper coupons but, rather, through the use of electronic benefits transfer cards, known in Michigan as “the Bridge card.”
The indictment (Link to Indictment) alleges that the five defendants accepted SNAP benefits for cash at a rate of 50 cents on the dollar, and sold crack, heroin, marijuana, and firearms for SNAP benefits, also at a rate of 50 cents on the dollar. It is alleged that J & K General Store has defrauded the United States of approximately $462,852.
James Taylor and Derrick John Graves appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh W.
Brenneman, Jr., in Grand Rapids this afternoon to hear the charges. Carol Ann Taylor and Troy Allen Howard were arrested today and are expected have their initial appearance in federal court in Grand Rapids tomorrow. Philip Eugene Kendrick remains at large. The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector
General and the Lansing Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney B. René Shekmer.