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Fresno Bakery Ran $5M Food Stamp Laundering Scheme, Feds Allege
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 11 months ago on
May 23, 2023

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A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted the alleged ring leader of a Fresno food stamp laundering scheme that cost taxpayers $5 million, authorities said.

The grand jury returned a two-count indictment, charging Jorge Luis Rivera, 53 of Fresno, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud and attempted wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced in a news release.

Two other persons were previously arrested in connection with the alleged cash-for-stamps operation at El Ranchito Bakery, which is at 417 W. Shields Ave.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman told GV Wire that Evaristo Gomez and Maria Munoz, both arrested in 2020, pleaded guilty to charges on April 18 and await sentencing.

Paid Cash for Food Stamps 2011-208: Court Documents

According to court documents, beginning in 2005, El Ranchito became authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly referred to as food stamps.

These benefits cannot be exchanged for cash but between 2011 and 2018 Rivera directed employees to exchange SNAP benefits for cash, the indictment stated. He also allegedly told employees to accept SNAP benefits for unauthorized items at the request of customers.

This case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexandre Dempsey and Joseph Barton are the prosecutors.

 

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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