Remaining Two "Snap" Fraud Conspirators Sentenced To Prison And Ordered To Pay Over $700k In Restitution
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced that Cruz Gonzalez, of Shelby, Michigan, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $722,149 to the Department of Agriculture by U.S. District Court Judge Gordon J. Quist. Her daughter, Fabiola Garcia, was sentenced the same day to 20 months in prison and also ordered to pay $722,149 in restitution. The two conspired to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, by illegally exchanging SNAP benefits for cash, cell phones, and other ineligible items at La Fortuna Carniceria in Shelby, Michigan. The total amount of fraud was determined to be $722,149, covering the period of February 2008 through January 2014.
U.S. Attorney Miles stated, "The federal government cannot tolerate the theft of federal program benefits meant to aid low income individuals meet daily nutritional needs. Such theft undermines the public’s confidence in the SNAP program and diminishes the government’s ability to provide food assistance to those citizens most in need."
Gonzalez and Garcia were two of three conspirators charged and convicted in the conspiracy. The third, Gisela Mendoza, also a daughter of Gonzalez, was sentenced in November to six months in prison, two months of home detention, and restitution of $722,149.
A joint investigation led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and the Michigan State Police SSCENT team resulted in the federal charges.