Fraud at Murray Superette could be in hundreds of thousands of dollars, police say
MURRAY Three brothers – Alexander, Myron and Olec Salamaca – have been charged with grand larceny, welfare fraud and other crimes following a raid today by police officers.
The raid followed a 15-month investigation where the brothers 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 reported.
Customers were given cash, and then often used that to buy items not authorized by the food stamp program, such as untaxed cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, gasoline and other non-permissable items, said Joe Sacco, supervising investigator for the Task Force.
The Task Force and other officers executed search warrants at the Murray Superette, the Salamaca Estate Winery, and the brothers’ residences this morning.
Police seized 64 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, more than $22,000 in cash, a loaded handgun, several rifles and shotguns, numerous financial records, several NYS benefit cards and PIN numbers, several computers and an EBT terminal for food stamps.
The following were charged:
Alexander R. Salamaca, 49, of 2900 Kendall Rd., Holley; Myron B. Salamaca, 60, of 2874 Kendall Rd. Holley; and Olec L. Salamaca, 62, of 16569 Ridge Rd., Holley.
They were all charged with 1 count of misuse of food stamps, food stamp program coupons, authorization cards and electronic devices, which is a Class D felony.
They also have been charged with grand larceny in the third degree (Class D felony), 1 count to scheme to defraud in the first degree (Class E felony), 1 count of criminal possession of untaxed cigarettes – more than 10,000 cigarettes (Class E felony), 1 count of criminal tax fraud in the fourth degree, intent to evade NYS sales tax exceeding $3,000 (Class E felony), and 41 counts of criminal sale of untaxed cigarettes.
Olec Salamaca faces an additional charge of criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree (Class E felony).
All three Salamacas were arraigned in the Gaines Town Court by Justice Bruce Schmidt. They were committed to Orleans County Jail on $20,000 cash bail. They are to return to Gaines Town Court at 3 p.m. on Nov. 2.
“This investigation is ongoing with more arrests and charges pending,” said Joe Sacco, supervising investigator for the Task Force. “The total fraud could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
District Attorney Joe Cardone said he expects people who traded their food stamps for cash will also be kicked off public assistance. He said at least 50 people have been identified for misusing their benefits, and the list is expected to grow.
The raid this morning follows an investigation going back to July 2014 by the Task Force and the Welfare Fraud Unit in the Department of Social Services.
The Task Force was aided with seven search warrants this morning by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General; NYS Department of Taxation and Finance; the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office; and the Welfare Fraud Unit at DSS.