Valley News -

Man suspected of stealing food stamp funds

 

Last updated 11/8/2018 at 12:55pm

HEMET - A Hemet store owner suspected of arranging fraudulent transactions to steal federal welfare funds his customers were using to make purchases was arrested on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Orlando Ontivero-Angulo, 39, was taken into custody on suspicion of fraud, grand theft and other offenses following a joint Hemet police and FBI raid on his business, La Perla Market, in the 800 block of Florida Avenue.

Ontivero-Angulo was booked into an area federal detention center. Bail information was not immediately available.

According to Hemet police Lt. Eric Dickson, an investigation into the suspect's business activities was started earlier this year after detectives became aware of possible misuse of electronic benefit transfer -- EBT -- cards, which are furnished under a federally funded and state-monitored social welfare program.

The cards, which replaced food stamps over a decade ago, enable beneficiaries to make purchases under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, or SNAP.

Dickson said several undercover operations revealed that Ontivero-Angulo was accepting customers' EBT cards "for unauthorized purchases,'' though he didn't disclose the products involved.

Dickson alleged that the suspect was also "overcharging for authorized purchases, with (Ontivero-Angulo) pocketing the money.''

Alleged fraudulent transactions may have netted the suspect up to $50,000 in ill-gotten profits, according to Dickson.

"This crime is particularly despicable. This man (was) taking advantage of families who truly needed the funds this program provides,'' said Hemet police Capt. Glen Brock, one of the investigators involved in the operations targeting Ontivero-Angulo.

Warrants were served at the suspect's business and residence, where detectives seized undisclosed evidence, Dickson said.

The condition of the La Perla Market prompted investigators to summon the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, whose inspectors determined the business was a public health hazard and ordered it padlocked until there was an on-site cleanup, Dickson said.

The suspect has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.

 

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