DETROIT – The owners of a market on Detroit's west side are accused of committing fraud against the United States.
Federal documents said the owner of the Chesterfield Food Market on West Davison near the Lodge Freeway has been scheming to steal SNAP and WIC money. He's also accused of getting caught and doing it again, officials said.
Regulars of the market said it usually opens by 10 a.m., but that wasn't the case Monday. It's unclear if that's because of the federal charges.
The case was submitted in federal court and accuses Owker Toma of defrauding the U.S. Officials said Toma ripped off SNAP and WIC benefits by buying them at discounted rates.
The federal filing accuses Toma of buying an $80 EBT card and giving his customer $40. In another case, he allegedly bought an $85 card for $20.
Then the EBT cards would be used at places such as Meijer and Kroger, and most of the purchased goods would be used to stock shelves at the Chesterfield Market, according to authorities.
This is the second time the store has been caught in this scheme, officials said.
In 2022, the USDA permanently disqualified the store from the SNAP program for similar reasons, but in 2008, Toma convinced his sister to reapply for the program on behalf of the store, which was approved, according to officials.
In 2017, federal officials executed search warrants at the store and at the Toma home. He and his wife, Anaheed, and son, Marvin, all work at the store, officials said. They're all charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
Local 4 contacted the family over the phone, but there was no answer. The voicemail was full.