3 Salamaca brothers sentenced to 4 months jail, ordered to pay $164K in restitution
ALBION – Three brothers who faced grand larceny charges as part of a food stamp scheme were sentenced to four months of intermittent time in jail today, as well as an order to pay about $164,000 in restitution.
“You guys were running a crooked business,” Orleans County Court Judge James Punch said at sentencing today.
He said they failed to pay their honest share of taxes, and were cheating the government.
Myron, Olec and Alexander Salamaca were arrested on Oct. 27 following a 15-month investigation where the Salamacas and some employees allowed customers to illegally exchange food stamps in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) at 70 percent of their value, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force said then.
The Salamacas would swipe electronic DBT cards and give customers cash back or allow them to buy alcohol, untaxed cigarettes, gas and other items unauthorized by the program, District Attorney Joe Cardone said in court on April 4, when the brothers pleaded guilty to grand larceny.
Myron and Olec are the owners of the store. Charles Rogers, attorney for Alexander Salamaca, said his client was only an employee at the store, and was just following directives from his brothers.
“The two brothers gave him instructions on what to do and he did it,” Rogers said on behalf of Alexander Salamaca.
“I don’t think you’re absolved by just saying, ‘I was following orders,'” Judge Punch responded. “I think you’re equally culpable.”
The judge gave Alexander the same punishment of four months in jail, plus five years on probation. Punch said the restitution schedule will be determined after consulting with Probation.
Ben Bonarigo, attorney for Olec Salamanca, said the family has owned the Murray Superette for 37 ½ years.
“These are hard-working men,” Bonarigo said.
The Salamacas attempted to sell the business before, but couldn’t get a buyer. They started to cheat other people and the government, Bonarigo said.
“He knows what they did was wrong,” Bonarigo told the judge on behalf of Olec.
Punch said the brothers had other options and didn’t need to resort to their scheme.
“It doesn’t fly with me that you were in a difficult business and decided to cheat people,” Punch said.
The brothers will spend partial weeks in jail over the next four months with Myron in jail from 6 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday, Olec from 6 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Wednesday and Alexander from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. on Friday.
They will pay a joint restitution of $15,000 to the New York State Department of Taxation for sales tax on untaxed cigarettes. They will also pay $149,102 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for abuses in the food stamp program.
Thomas Burns, attorney for Myron Salamaca, said the brothers “have been cooperative throughout the entire process.”
Punch said as terms of their probation they are not to consume alcohol, but they will be permitted to sell it at the Murray Superette.