Michelle Obama’s initiative to establish local flea markets in poor, minority communities was the breeding ground for largest food stamp fraud operation in U.S. history.
Police stormed the Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market in South Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 10 and 11, charging 22 Latino produce store owners with food stamp fraud, to the tune of $13 million in total fraud.
Officials say the store owners and their employees would let SNAP card recipients have cash from their cards, in exchange for a cut of the money. Store owners would swipe the cards for an inflated amount, hand over the cash to the card holder, and pocket their share. Rarely would they use the cards to buy actual food. See official announcement from Department of Justice with individual names and charges.
In a press conference attended by Judicial Watch in the Justice Department’s Miami headquarters this week, federal prosecutors coined the case “Operation Stampede.” The defendants, all authorized by the government to accept food stamps as part of the administration’s new initiative, face up to 20 years in prison.
Authorities didn’t touch on consequences that the food-stamp recipients should face for also breaking the law. They also committed fraud by knowingly taking cash—instead of food—which is illegal under program rules.
Many similar cases of food stamp fraud have been discovered and prosecuted, but this was the largest operation in US History. In spite of the high percentage of fraud, the Obama administration has continue to expand the program.