FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A Fresno bakery owner has been arrested in connection with a food stamp trafficking scheme at his business, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday.
According to federal prosecutors, 53-year-old Jorge Luis Rivera of Fresno who was arrested on Tuesday and has been charged with a series of wire fraud-related charges.
Court documents show Rivera owned El Ranchito Bakery in Fresno. Beginning in 2005, the business was authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps.
Officials say these benefits cannot be exchanged for cash. Between approximately 2011 and August 2018, Rivera directed his employees to exchange SNAP benefits for cash and to accept SNAP benefits for unauthorized items at the request of customers.
Prosecutors say the loss of the United States is estimated to be over $5 million.
If convicted, Rivera could face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, Department of Justice officials added.