Agents arrest woman in food stamp scheme

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on April 12, 2011 at 10:35 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 13 at 12:27 PM

SEATTLE -- Federal agents arrested a Seattle woman Tuesday who despite being told she was the target of a major criminal investigation, moved her illegal food stamp scheme just down the street.

The woman is Cuc Pham, and just a few months earlier she was given a warning by federal prosecutor Tom Woods to stop buying food stamps for cash.
 
"We informed her that she was a target of the investigation and that she was facing potential criminal charges," said Woods. "Unfortunately she seems to have continued that conduct."
 
In February, the KING 5 Investigators videotaped Pham recruit people off the streets, drawing in customers willing to hand over food stamp debit cards. The ring pays $0.50 on the dollar for the cards.
 
From the story, prosecutors learned that Pham simply moved her operation down the block.
At the federal courthouse Tuesday, Pham was charged with running a food stamp scheme at Seattle Chinese Herb and Grocery, a small store that trafficked more than $2 million in food stamps before federal agents raided it in October.
 
A judge denied prosecutors' request to keep Pham in jail until her trial. However, the judge ordered GPS tracking to make sure she doesn't return to the scene of her crime -- grocery stores.
 
The judge also banned her from casinos, saying she was bilking the taxpayer funded food stamp program to support her gambling habit.
 
The owner of Seattle Chinese Herb and Grocery is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty last month to food stamp fraud.

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