Convenience store owner accused of selling drugs for food stamp benefits

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New Star Market By Mike Gertzman New Star Market By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix convenience store owner has been booked into the Maricopa County Jail for allegedly selling drugs for food stamp benefits.

The Governor’s Office announced Thursday that Joo Ho Yi committed 10 violations of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by illegally purchasing the benefits from EBT cards.

Authorities believe that Yi provided $544 in cash, five bags of marijuana, and a half ounce of methamphetamine to individuals in exchange for more than $4,000 in SNAP benefits.

Data from the United States Department of Agriculture suggests that Yi’s New Star Market was responsible for cheating the SNAP program out of more than $6,000.  

Yi is now facing charges of unlawful use of food stamps, sale of a dangerous drug, and sale of marijuana.

Yi’s arrest is part of an ongoing investigation that began in 2010 when Gov. Brewer established the anti-fraud Trafficking Detection Unit within the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

“The success of this operation is a true testament to the good that can be accomplished when agencies work together,” said Gov. Brewer. “We will continue to pursue individuals who take advantage of the public’s generosity and goodwill.”

Since July 2011, 31 people have been arrested and charged with crimes against the SNAP program.

To date, 23 of those arrested have been convicted and ordered to pay a total of $241,193 in restitution to the SNAP program and $6,850 in fines to the Attorney General’s Anti-Racketeering Revolving Fund.