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Feb 14, 3:56 AM EST

Louisville store owner sentenced in food stamp scheme

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The former owner of a Louisville specialty food store has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for food stamp fraud.

Elias Estephane was also ordered to pay $545,000 in restitution during sentencing on Tuesday.

Prosecutors said during a November trial that Estephane traded cash for food stamp benefits, generally paying customers 50 cents on the dollar. He was convicted of defrauding a U.S. Department of Agriculture Program on Nov. 9 following a four-day jury trial.

Estephane owned two food stores, called the Meat Store and the Meat Store 2, in Louisville.

The U.S. Attorney in Louisville says in a release the USDA and FBI began investigating the Meat Store's redemption of food stamp benefits because it had a significantly higher level of benefits redemption than similar area stores.

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