Welfare fraud exposed- Sheriff says Saginaw business ripped off taxpayers

Saginaw County Sheriff TMs detectives, Michigan State Police, and Federal investigators raided a Saginaw Party store today.

The business owner was allegedly committing welfare fraud.

The Saginaw County Sheriff says undercover investigators busted the owner of RTJ Party Store and Takeout. He apparently was buying WIC, Bridge, or SNAP cards from welfare recipients who wanted to gamble or buy booze and cigarettes instead of food.

If you have $100 left on your card, he may give you $50 or $40 and say do whatever you want with the rest, said Sheriff William Federspiel.

The sheriff says the business owner would then use these cards to buy items from other stores.

The sheriff says the owner was arrested, and is expected to be charged with fraud. Investigators are still sorting through the evidence collected at the store, but say it appears he defrauded welfare programs out of as much as $320,000 in just four months.

The man TMs name was not being released Tuesday, because he had not yet been formally arraigned in court. The sheriff, however, says the man is familiar with crime. The sheriff says his office shut down a party store in 2009 on Genesee Street in Saginaw. That business was owned by the same man.

These are serious allegations, because the money we're talking about is our money, said the sheriff. That is taxpayers TM money. It TMs our money we give to the government and say give to people who are in need.

The sheriff says it is possible some of those people who claimed to be in need will also face charges.

The sheriff says this is proof the welfare system should be changed, and that perhaps technology should be used to better track the identities of people using cards provided by welfare programs.