Grocery worker admits federal food stamp fraud in $3M scheme

- FILE - Waterbury Police Cruiser (WTNH)
- FILE - Waterbury Police Cruiser (WTNH)

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Waterbury grocery store worker has admitted in federal court that he unlawfully allowed customers to exchange food stamps for cigarettes, bongs, hookahs and glass smoking pipes.

Prosecutors say 40-year-old Raul Monarca-Gonzalez waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty Monday to unlawful use of food stamp benefits and conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.

Monarca-Gonzalez worked at WB Trade Fair Grocery. Authorities say that from November 2014 until June 2016 he and others allowed customers to redeem food stamps for cash and other ineligible items.

Prosecutors say the store redeemed $3.2 million in benefits over 18 months. They estimate it should’ve only been able to redeem up to $240,000 a year.

The Republican-American reported what the food stamps were exchanged for.

Monarca-Gonzalez faces up to five years in prison.
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