Husband-and-Wife Duo Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit $3.4 Million in Food Stamp Fraud

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By NTD Newsroom
June 23, 2019US News
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Husband-and-Wife Duo Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit $3.4 Million in Food Stamp Fraud
The husband-and-wife duo behind a Findlay Market business that prided itself on family values was convicted of leading a scheme to commit $3.4 million in food stamp fraud over the course of eight years. (WCPO via CNN)

DAYTON (WCPO)—The husband-and-wife duo behind a Findlay Market business that prided itself on family values was convicted Friday of leading a scheme to commit $3.4 million in food stamp fraud over the course of eight years.

Michael and Amanda Jo Busch, who ran Busch’s Country Corner until federal investigators raided it in May 2018, were each convicted on 25 charges, including conspiracy to steal government funds, submitting false claims, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) fraud and wire fraud.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman, the Busches began exchanging cash for SNAP benefits in 2010. Investigators found that, in the eight years that followed, they recorded an average of 2,167 SNAP transactions each month—more than twice the number conducted by similar businesses in the area.

A grocery store advertises that they accept food stamps
A grocery store advertises that they accept food stamps in the South Bronx in New York City on Sept. 19, 2013. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Altogether, Busch’s processed 195,113 SNAP transactions totaling $5.4 million between 2010 and 2018. Federal agents estimated only about 36 percent were authentic.

Co-conspirator Randall Busch, Michael’s brother, pleaded guilty to 19 counts of SNAP fraud in April and was sentenced to five years probation.

Busch’s is no longer listed on Findlay Market’s roster of vendors, but an archived snapshot of the site from early 2018 describes it as a family business run by high school sweethearts. Its owners wrote they chose Findlay because it is “a constantly interesting place to be.”

5.8 Million People No Longer on Food Stamps

Over 5.8 million people are no longer on food stamps since President Donald Trump completed his first month in office in February 2017, according to the new data by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The data of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which came out on June 7, shows that in February 2017 there were 42,132,132 individuals participating in SNAP (pdf). This figure has since decreased to 36, 302,242 in 2019—showing a 5,829,890 drop in people on food stamps over that period.

In the same time period, the number of households dependent on SNAP decreased from around 20.8 million to less than 18.3 million—a drop of more than 2.5 million households.

Breitbart News says that the current figure of 36,302,242 SNAP participants is preliminary as the administration of food stamps in 2019 was impacted by the government shut down of late 2018.

The cost of the program also declined in the same time frame by over $880 million, from $5.2 billion to $4.4 billion.

Trump has tweaked the program a number of times, including curtailing waivers on work requirements.

The number of food stamp recipients has been dropping for four years, prompted by an economic recovery as well as welfare reforms at the state level. In Alabama, food stamp use fell by 85 percent in 13 counties after the state imposed work requirements for childless adults. In Georgia, 21 counties saw a significant reduction in food stamp recipients after the state restored the work requirement.

NTD Photo
Canned tomatoes line the shelves of a pantry at the SF-Marin Food Bank in San Francisco, Calif., on May 1, 2014. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

One of the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the program was the USDA Foods Package, a monthly parcel that would be given to about 80 percent of all current food stamp recipients. The so-called Harvest Boxes would include American-made, shelf-stable foods like milk, cereal, pasta, and canned produce. Some have compared the idea to meal-kit delivery company Blue Apron.

The parcels would account for half of the benefits, while the other half would be deposited to electronic benefit transfer cards, which are already in use. Since the government can acquire the food at wholesale prices, the proposal was expected to reduce the cost to American taxpayers by $129 billion over the next 10 years.

Trump has recently expressed that he doesn’t want immigrants coming to the country to live completely on welfare benefits. In a March 2019 interview with Breitbart News, the president said: “I don’t want to have anyone coming in that’s on welfare.”

“We have a problem, because we have politicians that are not strong, or they have bad intentions, or they want to get votes, because they think if they come in they’re going to vote Democrat, you know, for the most part,” he said.

A store accepting food stamps
A store accepting food stamps. (Paul Sableman/Flickr)

The President said the country needs workers, not people who subsist on welfare.

Venus Upadhayaya, Petr Svab, Zachary Stieber and The CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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