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Pittsford man admits to taking $1.4 million in SNAP benefit fraud scheme

A Pittsford man pleaded guilty Friday to a million-dollar SNAP benefit fraud scheme that lasted for five years. (MGN Online photo)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) - A Pittsford man pleaded guilty Friday to a million-dollar SNAP benefit fraud scheme that lasted for five years.

Federal prosecutors said Irving Feldman, 61, was the owner of Upstate Fish, Inc. located on Joseph Avenue in Rochester.

Feldman was authorized to accept and redeem SNAP benefits through EBT cards as part of his business. Federal laws prohibit retailers from exchanging cash for SNAP benefits.

Between January 2010 and October 2015, Feldman admitted to illegally buying SNAP benefits for less than half their full value in exchange for cash from eligible SNAP benefit beneficiaries.

In total, Feldman was part of approximately $1,227,063 in illegitimate transactions.

Feldman also told these same customers to buy fish at other fish stores using their EBT cards. Those people would then bring the fish to Upstate Fish, where Feldman would give them cash in amounts less than the cost to purchase the fish.

This particular scheme earned Feldman approximately $202,620 in illegal funds.

“Federal programs that provide services such as food stamp benefits are designed to assist those in our community who are most in need, they are not intended to line the pockets of greedy business owners.” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy.

Feldman faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his sentencing. That sentencing is scheduled for March 14, 2017, at 3:30 p.m.

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