3 Arrests Made In Alleged Illegal Food Stamp Trafficking Operation
Ville Platte - Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control (“ATC”) Commissioner Troy Hebert announced that ATC special agents arrested three Ville Platte residents last night for participating in an illegal food stamp trafficking operation. Mouneve Allan, Annette Weston, and Elizabeth Serie, all of Ville Platte, La are charged with illegal food stamp trafficking, computer fraud, and criminal conspiracy connected to the illegal sale of food stamp benefits.
The arrests are the result of a joint investigation by ATC’s Investigative Services Unit, United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services, and Ville Platte Police Department.
Agents say the alleged operation, originally exposed in 2009, was based at a local convenience store known as A&A Quick Stop # 2 located at 802 S. Chataignier St. in Ville Platte. ATC’s Investigative Services Unit initiated an investigation into the operation after receiving information from the Ville Platte Police Department about numerous complaints received by officers regarding the exchange of food stamp benefits for alcohol, tobacco, and cash.
“The blatant abuse of this assistance program will not be tolerated. Thanks goes out to the good businesses and people out there who report this illegal activity” stated Commissioner Hebert.
According to investigators, Allan illegally purchased food stamp information from benefit recipients on multiple occasions while working as an employee at A&A Quick Stop #2. Allan subsequently used the information and fraudulently represented himself as a food stamp benefit recipient to purchase items from a separate retail business.
Investigators also charged two benefit recipients, Weston and Serie, for illegally selling their food stamp benefits to Allan as part of the scam.
ATC continues to work with the Evangeline Parish District Attorney Trent Brignac’s Office to ensure that all individuals involved are successfully prosecuted and that the laws are adhered to in Evangeline parish.
Officials further stated that the investigation is continuing and additional arrests are expected.