According to federal court records, three Rock Hill convenience store owners are now facing steep prison time after pleading guilty in to over $5 million in food stamp fraud.
The court documents show that the 3 Rock Hill store owners defrauding the federal government of $5,850,733.
Li Fang Phu, Hoang Long Huu Nguyen, and Dianne Margaret Phu perpetrated the scheme at the former Gas on the Spot store on South Cherry Road, and at the Daily Express Mart on Wilson Street (also known as T & D Food Mart LLC), across the street from the Rock Hill Housing Authority, and two blocks from the Rock Hill Police Department.
Prosecutors claim that the men repeatedly accepted food stamps for cigarettes, beer, and gas (one charge shows the acceptance of $59 in food stamps for a bottle of beer and a pack of cigarettes).
Food stamps, technically called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are a federal program that gives assistance to the poor for food purchases only. Food stamps by law are not allowed to be used for non-food items.
The three suspects allegedly used signs, signals and other subtle clues to alert customers that they accepted food stamps for unapproved items. Li Phu faces one felony count; Nguyen faces two counts, and Dianne Phu is charged with three felonies. The charges now carry up to five years in prison for each count, and they might have to forfeit any property or proceeds “derived from or traceable to” the alleged fraud – including their stores.
Sentencing is now expected to happen sometime in 2017, the case’s federal prosecutor Jim May remarked in a press release.