For Immediate Release - May 10, 2012

Six Individuals Taken into Custody in Connection with State EBT Fraud Investigation

Individuals Charged in Connection with Illegally Selling Their SNAP Benefits

BOSTON – Six additional individuals have now been arrested or arraigned in connection with the fraudulent use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known commonly as “food stamps,” Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.

On April 19, a total of 21 individuals were charged in connection with illegally selling their SNAP benefits at certain Massachusetts locations.  Among the 21, 6 arrest warrants and 15 summonses were issued.  All six individuals facing warrants have been taken into custody, arrested or arraigned in connection with this case.  Each defendant is charged with one count of Larceny over $250 and one count of Procurement Fraud.  The 15 individuals summonsed to court are expected to be arraigned at a later date. 

The individuals taken into custody to date are as follows:

Benjamin Ruiz, age 34, of South Boston:
Charged with Larceny over $250 and Procurement Fraud.  He was arrested last night and will be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court at a later date.

Jason Little, 31, of Weymouth:
Charged with Larceny over $250 and Procurement Fraud.  He was arrested on May 8, 2012 and arraigned this morning in Boston Municipal Court.  At arraignment he pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance with the condition that he report to probation officers at the Boston Municipal Court once a week.  He is due back in court on July 11, 2012 for a pre-trial conference.

Stephen Byrnes, 24, of Quincy:
Charged with Larceny over $250 and Procurement Fraud.  He was arrested on May 5, 2012 and will be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court at a later date.

Audrey Amaro, age 34, of Waltham:
Charged with Larceny over $250 and Procurement Fraud.  She was arrested on May 8, 2012, and arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on May 9, 2012.  At arraignment she pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.  She is due back in court on June 6, 2012 for a pre-trial conference.

Kenneth Babij, age 21, Quincy:
Charged with Larceny over $250 and Procurement Fraud.  He surrendered to police and was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court yesterday.  At arraignment he pleaded not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. 

Steven Rigby, age 31, of Milford:
Charged with Larceny over $250 and Procurement Fraud.  He was arrested on April 23, 2012 and arraigned at Boston Municipal Court on the same date.  He is due back in court on June 1, 2012 for a pre-trial conference.

The AG’s office has conducted investigations into the fraudulent use of EBT SNAP cards at certain Massachusetts locations and the investigation remains ongoing.  The AG’s office alleges these defendants knowingly accepted cash in lieu of groceries, defrauding the food stamp program. The SNAP program does not allow cash to be exchanged in lieu of benefits.

This case began with a referral from the Quincy Police Department which led to an investigation into the fraudulent use of EBT SNAP cards at Lotto Luck (D/B/A Pat Mini Mart) in Quincy. As a result of that investigation, Pat Lu, age 48, of Quincy, the owner of Pat Mini Mart, was charged with Larceny by Continuous Scheme, Procurement Fraud, and Access Device Fraud.  Lu was arraigned in Quincy District Court on April 19, 2012, where he pleaded not guilty and was held on $100,000 bail.  Lu is due back in court on May 14, 2012 for a pretrial hearing.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Michael Pine of AG Coakley’s Public Integrity Division, and Gabe Thornton from AG Coakley’s Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division, with assistance from Financial Investigator Brian Bukuras, also of the AG’s Office.  The ongoing investigation is being handled by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office.  Investigators from the Quincy Police Department, Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General assisted in the investigation.

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