DAYTON, Ohio – Federal authorities are charging that two Ohio meat businesses are at the center of a conspiracy to commit fraud using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP), Carter Stewart, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced Aug. 26.
Employees are accused of conspiring to defraud the United States government, theft of public money, wire fraud, illegal use of food stamps, money laundering and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Court documents allege that since 2011 individuals associated with Butcher Food Shop Distributors LLC and US Beef Cincinnati LLC in Fairfield, Ohio, actively engaged in fraudulent food stamp transactions in exchange for cash. The scheme allegedly included owners, managers and other employees of the door-to-door meat delivery services. The individuals repeatedly acquired and redeemed SNAP benefits in exchange for money, Oxycodone, heroin and marijuana, according to court documents.
On Aug. 26, federal, state and local law enforcement executed 19 search warrants, 14 arrest warrants and four seizure warrants against the owners, operators and employees of the two meat companies. Officers searched business premises, residences and vehicles. The raid was the culmination of an 18-month undercover operation, the US Attorney’s Office reported.
The US Attorney noted that US Dept. of Agriculture records showed approximately 8,145 suspected fraudulent transactions involving SNAP benefits. The transactions were completed by US Beef employees via voucher for an estimated $1.1 million. The Butcher Shop allegedly netted $382,000 on 7,912 fraudulent transactions, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio office said.
However, law enforcement noted that the fraud affected more than just public dollars and public assistance. “Their door-to-door retail sales of beef, poultry, pork and sea food products have impacted residential customers in Butler, Hamilton, Warren, Montgomery and Greene counties,” according to the statement.
The Southern District of Ohio Task Force is credited with cracking the case. The group is an electronic and financial crime task force of approximately 60 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the state. US Attorney Dwight Keller is prosecuting the case. Court appearances were scheduled for Aug. 27. Expected to appear were:
Steven E. Mueller, 61, of Fairfield
Joseph Raymond Gray, 34, of Fairfield
Jeffrey C. Knab, 58, of Cincinnati
Andrie Lamarr Scott, 22, of Cincinnati
Francis E. Racicot, IV, 32, of Cincinnati
Rici Lynn Hopkins, 25, of Cincinnati
Christopher Doane, 29, of Cincinnati
Scott Andrew Traum, 45, of Cincinnati
Joey Lightcap-Traum, 43, of Cincinnati
Dalton Andrew Traum, 19, of Cincinnati
Keith Blankenship, 35, of Loveland, Ohio
Gregory M. Brown, 35, of Cincinnati
Jordan A. Kaiser, 22, of Fairfield
William N. King, 22, of Fairfield