Three Flint business owners are charged with food stamp fraud following an investigation by the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Chips Supper Club in Flint is known for its live music and cheap eats. Its owners now face felony charges.
"You can imagine how one could maximize profits by this illegal scheme,?? Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said.
Paul Verdun and Reginald Clements ?? who own Chips Supper Club and Chips Shrimp and Fish ?? are accused of paying EBT Bridge card holders pennies on the dollar to use their cards at Kroger and other grocery stores to buy food for their restaurant and catering business.
"This is an egregious example of abuse for people that need a safety net,?? said Al Kimichik, director of the OIG.
Beverly Biggs-Leavy, who owns a catering business, is also charged with food stamp fraud. Investigators were tipped off by certain red flags such as her bulk purchases and a call she made to the OIG when the fraudulent cards didn't work.
"She called in and complained about Bridge cards that she had purchased. Gave a false name when she called, we tracked her down, and that's what led to this,?? said OIG agent Craig Carlton.
The biggest losers in this crime are those who rely on food stamps every day. ??Not because they don't get their Bridge cards,?? Leyton said, ??but because the program costs go up and all of the individual taxpayers in Michigan suffer as a result of this kind of activity."
The charges are part of an ongoing investigation by the OIG. Prosecutors say more suspects will be charged, including people who allegedly sold their EBT cards to the businesses.
All three defendants have been arraigned in 67th District Court in Genesee County and were given personal recognizance bonds. Pre-trials are set for Friday with preliminary examinations tentatively scheduled for July 18.