Rockland Residents Charged With $55,000 Food Stamp Theft

DA Thomas Zugibe spoke about the illegal SNAP transactions.
DA Thomas Zugibe spoke about the illegal SNAP transactions.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe announced criminal charges against 26 individuals for illegally trading SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) benefits for cash. Zugibe said 26 recipients of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) were charged with $55,000 in theft from the program over a three-year period.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Zugibe said the offenders, who lived throughout Rockland, would enter the Nyack Food Mart and ask for cash. The store charged about a 30 percent fee for the illegal transaction. Zugibe said there were telltale signs such as transactions in large rounded amounts. 

Cyril Kerr, a criminal investigator with the district attorney’s office, showed a video clip of a transaction during which a suspect asked for $500 cash.

“The total transaction here is going to be for $625,” Kerr said. “The so-called customer is going to get $500 in cash.” 

The storeowner allegedly kept the difference. 

“We got a tipoff,” said Senior Assistant District Attorney Ameenah Karim. 

The DA’s office then began an investigation and obtained search warrants for the store’s surveillance videotapes. Federal authorization was needed for the investigation because SNAP is federal government program.

Social Services Commissioner Susan Sherwood said the investigation took about a year but now authorities have a method and process they can use for other investigations.

“I think we have a process now we can follow the stores,” said Sherwood.

She said Nyack Food Mart has been disqualified from serving as a SNAP vendor. If the SNAP recipients who have been charged are found guilty, they will be suspended from the program for one year if it is their first offense. If it is their second offense or they transacted over $500 illegally, they will be permanently barred from the program. 

Those accused of illegally trading SNAP benefits include: Eric Brown, Melissa Castillo, Joan Christopher, Ebens Louis, and Shameta Williams of Nyack; Lawrence Mulqueen and Murali Panchacharam of Nanuet; Mayra Munoz of Valley Cottage; Nyisha Peterson and Catherine Sisco of Central Nyack; Edward Beauchard, Donnie Broadnax, Gale Calhoun, Sheila Cash aka Sheila Brooks, Jennifer Delbiondo, Michelle Louis-Jean, Adrienne Teachey and Samuel Sisco of Spring Valley; Haydee Rodriguez of Monsey; Michael Coyle and Terance Maurice of Stony Point; Maxine Hansen of Rhinebeck and Robert Hicks, who did not have an address. The amounts they allegedly transacted ranged from $6,428.08 to $326 and all were charged with grand larceny or petty larceny and other counts.

“It’s just infuriating when you see something like this,” said Sherwood. 

Zugibe said earlier this year the owners of the store at 3 Waldron Ave in Central Nyack along with store clerks had been charged with either grand larceny or petty larceny along with misuse of food stamps, food stamp program coupons, authorization cards and electronic access devices totaling $100,000.

Sherwood said 16,000 Rockland families receive SNAP benefits, which can range up to $700 per month.  In 2012, Social Services uncovered more than $300,000 in fraudulent transactions.


Roadrunner October 01, 2013 at 06:45 PM
How many other stores are doing this. What a Shame
Issy October 01, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Would this be the same Lawrence Mulqueen of who gun activists were defending his right to illegally have a small arsenal and who threatened to kill the President and leading liberals?
VinnyfromCongers October 01, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Thanks to all the investigators for checking up on this. As a taxpayer, I would like to think some of these programs have integrity. What ever happened to the STAR investigation. Did everyone turn themselves in by the April 15th deadline?
Tony T October 02, 2013 at 12:07 AM
I would bet that near 40%-50% of the SNAP bebefits are filtered into cash this was. This was one little store in Nyack can you imagine what goes on in NYC, Chicago, Camden, etc with populations of millions of thousands of grocery stores....wake up America!!! Wake up!
Issy October 02, 2013 at 06:35 AM
It is always dangerous when people make up facts to suit their agenda. Actual studies, not made up numbers, show fraud in welfare programs is around 7%.
Tony T October 02, 2013 at 07:19 AM
That looks good on paper...define fraud? How many are on it that should not be in the first place, how many are double dippers, how many use the SNAP for items they are not intended (grocer rings up approved items then sells them beer, cigarettes etc,. and takes his cut, then add in the outright fraud like the arrest were made for that is a whole lot of my money wasted
joe October 02, 2013 at 08:39 AM
I see a woman in Shop Rite every once in a while who uses food stamps. She caught my attention one day while I was behind her in the check out line. She was complaining about her sales total which was 26 bucks and some change. Mean while her shopping cart was stacked over the top of the cart with groceries. After I finished checking out, $96 for a few bags. I saw her in the parking lot loading the groceries into her beautiful BMW SUV. Sort of gave me a knot in my stomach as I climbed into my Honda with 165,000 miles on it.
overTAXEDpayer October 02, 2013 at 08:47 AM
Welcome to the Land of Entitlement Joe...lawsuits should you try to investigate and takeaway the free ride. Maybe you should have followed the bmw to her store so you know where to shop from next time?
Warren G Harding October 02, 2013 at 08:57 AM
Sure Joe, I have a bridge..............
Warren G Harding October 02, 2013 at 09:40 AM
And the only Monsey resident was a Rodriquez..............
Gregg October 02, 2013 at 11:16 AM
I want to get on a gravy train like this. Is that County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef next to him? Looks like he has been eating on Taxpayer dollars for a good long time.
Tony T October 02, 2013 at 11:32 AM
The only reason that the only Monsey resident arrested was a Rodriquez is because of the type of store the sting took place in.
Marietta Sanchez October 02, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Go back to the system of paper stamps, for basic items like milk, eggs, meat and bread only. Make the recipients pick up the stamps rather than getting easily refilled electronic cards. With bus service around Rockland, there is no reason the "needy" can't get to the Social Service office to pick up their book of Food Stamps, weekly. The recipient should put forth some effort to receive the help.
Roadrunner October 02, 2013 at 01:31 PM
What zugibie does with these low life's will be interesting to see because he has a tendency to be too lenient on these type of crimes. Look at the woman who stole from stony point little league. All she did was pay back money she stole and probation. No actual jail time. Hasidic who stole from welfare got no jail time either. They just have to pay back money. Sex offenders are also treated lightly. These loser should be in jail and during the day picking up the garbage on the side of the road.
James R October 02, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Murali Panchacharam broke into Hi-Tor many years ago and stole a pit bull. He has stolen money from many people for drugs and it a crook. No surprise he was implicated in something like this. Just a bad seed from the very beginning. What a disgrace.
Tony T October 02, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Roadrunner..........there is certainly plenty of garbage on the side of our roads, but that's another story.
Lilly October 02, 2013 at 09:59 PM
"If the SNAP recipients who have been charged are found guilty, they will be suspended from the program for one year if it is their first offense. " This statement itself is infuriating. They should be barred for life. There are families living paycheck-to-paycheck who rely on SNAP and this type of fraud and abuse of the system only causes further distrust of the system.
Richard Light October 02, 2013 at 11:46 PM
And the government is checking on who ????????????????????
James R October 03, 2013 at 06:56 AM
Jennifer Delbiondo is a fraud. She comes into the animal shelter looking for food for her dogs and she has these perfectly manicured fingernails that no doubt were done in a salon. If she has money for professional manicures then she should have money to feed her dogs and not go asking at a non profit shelter. You can tell she knows how to "work" the system.
Patricia Collins October 03, 2013 at 02:02 PM
I'm a single mother of 2 and I'm a full time employee. I have to spend over $6,000 a year for school lunches for my kids while we have people out here collecting food stamps and getting free services at the schools because they are on the SNAP program. Some of those people that were caught abusing SNAP were in the Journal News for welfare fraud previously and we're surprised they got caught again. I have friends that work in Costco that tell me that some Hasidic women come in there and spend $800 from that electronic benefit card only to have a balance of $6,000 still. I've become very disillusioned with the County of Rockland and how it's being run into the ground by our Legislature and our Elected officials. Stop the hemorrhaging with all of the free give aways in the form of services. Stop giving these people a slap on the hand for stealing from all hard working tax payers that foot the bill.
Patricia Collins October 03, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Oh by the way why are you only checking the stores in Nyack. Check out the stores/bodegas in Spring Valley on main street and by the International market on Slinn and in Hillcrest.
Roadrunner October 03, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Patricia Collins thanks for enlighten me on Costco That's upsetting. A lot of us are just making ends meet and these people push out babies like nothing and my working ass is paying for them.
Tony T October 03, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Boy is the average working Joe like you and I the fools!!
Maire B October 09, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Issy, imho, 7% fraud in the welfare system is still 6% more than it should be.


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