SEATTLE - Federal agents and Seattle police raided at least two businesses in Seattle’s International District Tuesday.
Only KING 5 News was there as officers and agents arrested two women who are at the center of a long-term federal investigation. A third woman was taken into custody later. All three were charged with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud. The SNAP program was previously known as the food stamp program.
Federal investigators allege that three women were paying cash for food stamps. Sources tell KING 5 they were paying 50 cents on the dollar to food stamp recipients.
The agents also raided the Hop Thanh Supermarket and the Seattle Chinese Herb and Grocery Store, both at 12th Avenue and Jackson Streets in Seattle.The stores both have food stamp accounts that allow them to submit food stamps to the government for reimbursement under the multi-billion dollar food benefit’s program. According to federal documents, the owner of Seattle Chinese Herb and Grocery redeemed more than $2 million in food stamps between July 2009 and July 2010. Records indicate most of the redemptions appear fraudulent.
SNAP fraud is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
For several months now, the KING 5 Investigators have also been documenting evidence of food stamp fraud in the International District. They’ll have more about the federal raid tonight at 10pm on KONG and 11pm on KING 5, plus exclusive information about businesses and people that may be involved in the scam that the feds did not arrest Tuesday.