6 Busted in Food Stamp Fraud Operation

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(Photo Credit: MGN Online)

LORAIN COUNTY — Six people and a business have been indicted for their roles in a food stamp fraud operation, which contributed to $582,000 in fraud.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s investigative unit, the indictments were filed 15 months after law enforcement conducted search warrants at the Adames Deli & Grocery, 1700 E. 31st St., Lorain.

The investigation began after a citizen filed a complaint, and agents determined that ineligible items like cell phone payments were purchased with food stamps.

Adames Deli & Grocery was indicted on one count of theft and 10 counts of illegal food stamps. Rafeal Coll, 41, of Lorain, was indicted on 10 counts of illegal use of food stamps.

Lorain residents Erica Perez, 29; Lydia Vega, 31; and Monica Perez, 31; along with Elyria residents Malivanh Phouthavong, 23; and Marlon Charley, 38, were all indicted on one count of illegal use of food stamps.

“Food stamps are designed to assist children and families who need assistance in purchasing healthy meals,” Cleveland District Agent-in-Charge Greg Croft said in a press release. “Unfortunately there are some businesses that will allow frivolous purchases and keep the benefits from the children.”