A Long Island couple has pled guilty to more than $500,000 in food stamp fraud. Ravinder Parkash, 59, his wife, Prabha Rani, 58, of Riverhead, paid people in cash for half the value of their food stamps, and then faked purchases in their gas station convenience store to get federal funds. They will be charged with grand larceny, the misuse of food stamps, and money laundering, according to Newsday. Parkash faces a sentence of between one and four years in prison, and Rani faces just 60 days with five years of probation.
The scheming couple was one of 20 Suffolk County, Long Island residents rounded up as part of an 18-month investigation by police. The alleged criminals were all arrested in 2013, and face sentencing throughout the coming year. The Riverhead couple faces a court date in March, and their business — the gas station located next door to the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center — will be shut down.
This type of crime is not uncommon. Just recently, a court of appeals upheld a 10-year prison sentence for defrauding the Wisconsin state food stamps program.