Three people were arrested for alleged SNAP fraud linked to M&T Supermarket in Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island State Police has arrested three members of management at M&T Supermarket LLC for fraudulent use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, historically known as food stamps, and other financial crimes.
Marvin Taveras, owner of Providence, R.I.-based M&T Supermarket, and employees Cassandra Diaz and Marino Tavares were each charged with embezzlement and fraudulent conversion; obtaining property under false pretenses; fraudulent use of credit cards; receipt of money, goods and services obtained by fraudulent use of credit cards; fraudulent use of food stamps; and conspiracy in violation of the general laws of Rhode Island.
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According to WPRI.com, the investigation began back in April, when detectives received a complaint from the Rhode Island Department of Administration regarding the fraudulent use of food stamps at the supermarket.
Detectives reviewed the SNAP transaction data, which police said indicated several high-dollar SNAP purchases of food items online. Those food purchases were then delivered to M&T Supermarket. Police said investigators cross-checked the SNAP accounts making those purchases and determined that none of them lived at the Broad Street grocery store.
Taveras, Diaz and Tavares were arraigned and released pending their next court date.
SNAP provides food benefits to low-income families to supplement their grocery budget so that they can afford the nutritious food essential to health and well-being.
The program has undergone recent changes, including the end of COVID relief benefits in March. According to Chicago-based consumer insights company Circana, the elimination of SNAP benefits nationwide reduced food and beverage aid by $23 billion annually. As a result, in the initial months after the benefit cutbacks, SNAP households reduced their monthly food and beverage spending on average by about 35% of cut benefits. For example, Circana said that if SNAP benefits were cut by $200, the reduced food and beverage spending would be about $70 less per month.