Attorney General William J. Schneider announced Monday that Christopher S. Frazer, 44, of Lewiston, pled guilty to one count of Class C Theft by Deception, three counts of Class D Misuse of Identification and one count of Unlawful Possession of Scheduled Drugs and was sentenced for stealing $3,600 in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps).
Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice Clifford sentenced Frazer to three years in jail, all but six months suspended, and two years of probation with the requirement that he pay restitution. Frazer was also sentenced to six months incarceration, to run concurrently with the other sentence, and a $400 fine for the Unlawful Possession charge.
In February 2011, Lewiston police contacted Frazer in the course of an unrelated investigation. When Frazer invited the officers into his apartment, they saw three Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards that did not belong to Frazer. Frazer told the officers that he bought the cards and the owners of the cards subsequently admitted selling their cards to Frazer. Another search of the apartment turned up 186 prescription pills that Frazer said he had obtained from a friend.
As part of the EBT trafficking scheme, the three Food Stamp recipients provided Frazier with their EBT cards and the corresponding assigned PIN numbers in exchange for cash. An EBT card operates like an ATM card at eligible locations and requires that the card be swiped and the PIN number entered at the store checkout.
“The only purpose and legitimate use of an EBT card is to provide basic food necessities to the qualified recipient,” said Attorney General Schneider. “Treating this taxpayer-funded benefit as something to be bought and sold for cash is illegal.”
This case was investigated by the Lewiston Police Department and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit. Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell handled this matter for Attorney General Schneider’s Criminal Division.