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Press Release

Erie Mobile Convenience Store Owner Pleads to Fraud and Identity Theft Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

ERIE, Pa. - A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of food stamp fraud and identity theft, United States Attorney Cindy K. Chung announced today.

John Alan Vanhouwe, 60, pleaded guilty to two counts before Senior United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Vanhouwe, who owned and operated a mobile convenience store in Erie, allowed customers to pay credit accounts with food stamps and used a database he created to gain access to customers’ food stamp accounts so he could pay down their credit accounts at his store without their knowledge.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for April 10, 2023. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Vanhouwe on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Vanhouwe.

Updated November 7, 2022

Financial Fraud
Identity Theft