Three men were arrested Tuesday on federal charges that they stole $150,000 in government funds intended to help the poor with food purchases, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Luciano Estevez, 50, and Jose Garcia, 52, both of Camden, and Juan Melo, 56, of Woodlynne, were charged separately with conspiracy to defraud the federal government and defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
Octavio Rodriguez, 50, of Pennsauken, also is charged, but remained at large, Carpenito said.
The four men allegedly obtained electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards by offering cash and drugs to people who had the cards or had access to them.
The men then made approximately $150,000 in purchases from large national superstores, which were not named, and resold the items at local stores owned by or affiliated with the defendants, Carpenito said.