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Food Stamps Fraud at Bond Hill Market

The owners of a small neighborhood market are in big trouble according to Local 12's Rich Jaffe.

Husband and wife, Anil (ah-neel) and Leena Gupta have been indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury on 14 counts of telecommunications fraud...it's what most people call food stamp fraud. The couple owns the Bond Hill Market on California.

The Bond Hill Market's been a fixture in this tiny neighborhood for a long time. This is a place that counts a lot on local foot traffic. Almost across the street we met Forrest Domineack.  He's been doing business at the market since he was a kid.

He says, "Oh the market was great, it was great. It was a place you'd want to go. They had their own butcher in there, good fresh meats and it was just fun. Like I said my aunt would let us go over, it was our treat to go over and get candy and be able to go by ourself because it was so close."

But times have changed, and so has the market. The current owners, Anil and Leena Gupta have been indicted on 14 charges based on incidents from October through December of last year.

Investigators allege that people would walk in and, "Basically say hey, I'll sell you my hundred dollar food stamp card for 50 dollars or 40 dollars.  The person presenting the food stamp card would then get the cash and in some occasions they may have gotten a bottle of wine or a lighter, things you're not allowed to use your food stamp card for."says Julie Wilson of the Hamilton County Prosecutors office.

Ironically the store's right next door to a Cincinnati Police substation. From the somewhat faded signs it's clear this place has accepted food stamps and federal dollars through the women,infants and children program for years.

Most of the indicted charges are actually listed as telecommunications fraud.

Wilson says "That's because the food stamp cards are scanned into the cash register whatever and then there's an electronic transfer of funds."

The indictment also names the Gupta's company Skytouch incorporated.

Prosecutors say that in situations like this they indict the company as well as the owners because if convicted the company will in essence lose it's license to deal with state and federal programs like food stamps and WIC.

A warrant has been issued for the Gupta's.

Generally in cases like this the suspects simply turn themselves into authorities.

According to prosecutors each of the 14 counts in the indictment, if convicted, is worth 6 months to one year behind bars.

 

 

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