A North Carolina restaurant owner has been charged with food stamp fraud, after allegedly buying food stamps from people, then using the stamps to buy food for his bistro.
Herbert “Dean” Carlton, 54, was hit with 14 charges of food stamp fraud. Carlton purchased the food stamp cards from legitimate food stamp recipients, and from illegal sellers, for less than the face value of the food stamps. Carlton then used the food stamp cards to buy bulk items for his restaurant, Dean’s Southern Bistro, in Wilksboro, North Carolina, according to report in the Journal Patriot in Wilkes County, NC.
The Journal Patriot reports that Carlton was busted after an anonymous tip was made to the Wilkes Department of Social Services in Sept., 2013. The tip said an owner of a restaurant was buying food with food stamps for use at his restaurant. The information was turned over to the North Wilksboro Police Department.
Carlton is charged with 14 misdemeanor counts of illegal possession and use of food stamp cards. He was released from custody after posting a $5,000 unsecured bond.
A Carlton accomplice is wanted for selling some of the cards to Carlton. Thomas Joshua Byers, 23, an inmate at Polk Correctional Center (NC), is charged with five felonies for buying, selling and illegal distribution of food stamp cards. Carlton allegedly purchased $343 worth of food using the cards purchased from Byers.
Food stamp fraud of this type is not that unusual. In June, the FBI busted 88 people in Georgia for participating in a massive food stamp fraud involving phony grocery stores.