Pittsford man sentenced for running SNAP benefit scheme
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) - A Pittsford man was sentenced Wednesday for his role in 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.
On Wednesday, Chief U.S. District Judge Frank Geraci, Jr. sentenced Feldman to one year in federal prison and ordered him to pay $729,630 in restitution.
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.
"The schemes concocted by defendant - real-life fish stories - resulted not only in nutrition assistance being withheld from low-income individuals but also led to significant sums of money being fraudulently diverted from the needy to defendant,” noted U.S. Attorney James Kennedy.