3 charged with trafficking food benefits at Harrisburg stores

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Three people are charged with trafficking in the benefits people receive under Pennsyvania’s food assistance program.

Milciades Mendoza-Jiminez, 43, and his wife, Marylenny Acosta, 40, of Camp Hill, conspired to buy electronic benefits cards from recipients, either at a discounted cash value or in exchange for store credit. The couple then took the cards to an area wholesale club store and used their full value to buy bulk inventory for their Harrisburg mini market, state Inspector General Inspector Bruce Beemer’s office said.

From January 2015 to April of 2018, Mendoza-Jiminez and Acosta illegally trafficked in 88 different EBT cards with a total value of more than $24,000, authorities said.

The couple is charged with felony counts of fraudulent traffic in food orders and conspiracy.

The third defendant, 31-year-old Ramona Acosta, also of Camp Hill, is charged with fraudulent traffic in food orders. The inspector general’s office said she illegally used nine EBT cards to buy supplies for a different Harrisburg store during the same period.

The stores where officials allege the trafficking took place are at 1601 Market Street and 2163 N. 4th Street, both in Harrisburg.

All three were released on unsecured bail. Mendoza-Jiminez waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Preliminary hearings are pending for Marylenny and Ramona Acosta.

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