- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

BALTIMORE (AP) - Fourteen Baltimore-area retailers are facing federal charges stemming from a $16 million food stamp fraud scheme.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments at a news conference Tuesday, said the retailers received over $16 million in federal payments for food stamp transactions in which they didn’t provide food, but doled out cash instead.

Rosenstein said 300 law enforcement agents participated in the arrests, and executed roughly 32 search warrants.

According to the indictments, the store owners exchanged food stamps, issued through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, for cash, paying half the value of the food stamps to the recipient and keeping the rest.

The defendants face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud, and five years for conspiracy and food stamp fraud.

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