Worker admits he accepted food stamps for cigarettes, bongs

Posted at 3:04 PM, Nov 29, 2016

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut grocery store worker has admitted in federal court that he unlawfully allowed customers to exchange food stamps for cigarettes, bongs, hookahs and glass smoking pipes.

Prosecutors say 40-year-old Raul Monarca-Gonzalez pleaded guilty Monday to unlawful use of food stamp benefits and conspiracy.

Authorities say he and others at WB Trade Fair Grocery in Waterbury let customers redeem food stamps for cash and ineligible items between 2014 and this year.

Prosecutors say the store redeemed $3.2 million in benefits over 18 months, but should've only been able to redeem up to $240,000 annually.

Monarca-Gonzalez's attorney says his client understands little English and did what his boss told him, never receiving a dime from the transactions.

The Republican-American reported what the food stamps were exchanged for. Monarca-Gonzalez faces up to five years in prison.