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Ex-grocery store worker sentenced for food stamp scheme

NEWARK, N.J. — A man who worked at a small grocery store his daughter owned in New Jersey’s largest city is headed to prison for his role in a food stamps for cash scheme that cheated the government out of more than $885,000.

Manuel Venegas received an 18-month sentence Wednesday and must pay $573,199 in restitution. The 54-year-old Newark man had pleaded guilty last October to a fraud count.

Venegas’ daughter owned Jenny’s Deli in Newark, where he worked for three years. During that time, he and his daughter illegally gave some customers cash in return for their food stamp benefits.

Authorities started probing the store after officials noticed a high volume of food stamp redemptions. They say an undercover agent engaged in roughly 20 “purchases” at the store where the agent exchanged cash for food stamp benefits.

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