Owners of Chambersburg’s Haitian Mini Mart charged with trafficking nearly $185k in SNAP benefits

27 February 2024- The Office of State Inspector General (OSIG) announced charges today against the members of a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Trafficking ring in Franklin County. Marie Registe and Duckens Paul, owners of Manmanyo Mini Market/Haitian Caribbean Mini Market in Chambersburg, illegally stole nearly $185,000. The Franklin County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the crimes.

As of right now, over 20 people have been charged with public assistance fraud, SNAP trafficking, and more in Chambersburg Borough alone. It cannot be confirmed whether these are all related to this case, but they have all been filed recently and are continuing to be filed through the office of MDJ Manns. This is an ongoing investigation and will likely see dozens more people charged.

“The dismantling of this SNAP trafficking ring underscores the Office of State Inspector General’s unwavering commitment to preserving public trust in our assistance programs,” said State Inspector General Lucas M. Miller. “Through diligent investigation, collaboration with local authorities, and tips from the public, OSIG remains vigilant in protecting taxpayer funds and ensuring that benefits reach those in genuine need. We urge the public to continue reporting any suspected fraud or abuse, as they play a critical role in upholding the integrity of our assistance systems.”

SNAP Trafficking occurs when SNAP benefits are illegally exchanged for cash, services, or anything other than food. For example, a store owner may give a SNAP recipient cash at a percentage of their balance in SNAP benefits, or exchange SNAP benefits for drugs or other non-allowable goods, such as cigarettes.

Based on a tip from the public and through close coordination with the Department of Human Services, OSIG’s investigation revealed that Registe and Paul purchased SNAP benefits for approximately half their value from SNAP recipients. OSIG alleges that the owners engaged in a racketeering enterprise involving theft and dealing in proceeds of illegal activity by submitting Electronic Benefit Transfer transactions for reimbursement that violated EBT regulations.  Specifically, from May 3, 2021, through January 28, 2023, the owners completed EBT transactions with dozens of welfare recipients by exchanging the welfare recipients’ EBT benefits for cash or non-food goods at approximately half the value of the benefit. 

By engaging in this activity, the owners illegally obtained payment from the SNAP program, causing a threat to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s public assistance system, using the system to enrich themselves, and depriving the intended recipients of their benefits. In total, the defendants illegally received $184,757.07.

OSIG also charged Registe with felony public assistance fraud in the amount of $7,745.00. OSIG alleges that she lied to the Franklin County Assistance Office by failing to report that she owned and operated the store and collected SNAP assistance.

Registe was charged with 11 felony counts, including SNAP trafficking, theft by deception, deceptive business practices, public assistance fraud, corrupt organizations, and various related conspiracy charges. She can face up to 102 years of imprisonment and fines of $215,000. Paul was charged with 9 felony charges including SNAP trafficking, theft by deception, deceptive business practices, corrupt organizations, and various related conspiracy charges. He can face up to 88 years of imprisonment and fines of $185,000.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact OSIG and reference the “Haitian Caribbean Mini Market” investigation.  Anonymously report suspected welfare fraud on the OSIG website or call the Welfare Fraud Tipline: 1-800-932-0582.

All persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

OSIG works with DHS, which administers Pennsylvania’s public assistance programs, to investigate referrals made by DHS for potential fraud or abuse of programs.