Holyoke man accused of using fraudulent EBT cards to buy food for wife’s restaurant

Crime
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A Holyoke man was arrested Wednesday morning after he allegedly bought food in Springfield for months with multiple EBT cards that didn’t belong to him.

According to State Police Spokesperson David Procopio, shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, state, Holyoke, and Springfield police executed two warrants and arrested 55-year-old Jose Baez.

Procopio said warrants were executed at Baez’s home and at the El Rincon Boricua Restaurant on Lyman Street in Holyoke, which is owned by his wife. Procopio said his arrest was part of a nearly year-long investigation.

Baez would allegedly buy food on an almost daily basis from the 90 Meat Outlet and Sweet Life Foods Company in Springfield, which is also known as Cash and Carry, with multiple fraudulently-obtained EBT cards.

According to Hampden County DA Spokesperson Jim Leyden, 18 EBT cards have been seized as a result of the executed search warrant. Leyden said, so far at least 50 different violations of EBT fraud have been uncovered during the investigation.

Springfield Police said Baez would use the EBT cards to shop at 90 Meat Outlet in Springfield. He would then take the items he bought to his wife’s restaurant where it was used to prepare food that was served. Leyden said the restaurant has been shut down due to several code violations.

According to police, 90 Meat Outlet was not involved in the fraudulent activity.

Springfield Police told 22News investigators determined that more than 75 individual cards have been identified as being used by Baez. Selling an EBT/SNAP card to someone not authorized to use it could result in criminal charges for cardholders.

22News spoke with one neighbor who said she was shocked at what was going on outside her home this morning.

“Striking I would say,” said Kayla Lompa of Holyoke. “Especially because they had so many officers for one man you know what I mean. They tore everything apart it’s just sad to see what happened this morning.”

In all, Procopio said Baez used the cards to purchased tens of thousands of dollars worth of food supplies, but the exact amount is part of an ongoing investigation. 

The popular Holyoke restaurant will remain closed until further notice.

Baez is expected to be arraigned in Springfield District Court  Wednesday on the following charges: 

  • Electronic fund transfer violation
  • Public assistance fraud
  • Government purchasing violation
  • Money laundering
  • Larceny over $1,200 by single scheme

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