Campus Diner owner Anton Vuljaj, of Waterford Township, was arrested and charged with food stamp fraud in a federal sting operation of local businesses associated with the Eastern Market and surrounding area.
Vuljaj was one of six arrested, and nine charged, with abuse of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program system. SNAP is the largest federal program supplying food stamps and nutrition assistance to an estimated 45.8 million qualifying recipients, with nearly two million in Michigan.
The Michigan State Police, Detroit Police, Homeland Security and the USDA were among the law enforcement agencies involved in the two-day sweep. It was the culmination of an 18-month investigation into widespread fraud in the area.
On the USDA website, Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon discussed “tough” enforcement measures as a part of USDA’s ongoing effort to ensure integrity in the nation’s nutrition safety net.
“Where there is a will to commit malfeasance, bad actors will try to find a way, and we must do everything we can to stay ahead of the curve,” Concannon said.
The Detroit News reported that a two-day sting was conducted, and business owners were charged with trading monetary considerations for SNAP benefits using a network of “runners” to secure Michigan Bridge cards and use them illegally at area businesses.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office pegs the value of the illicit transactions as totaling “millions of dollars” over the past year.
On a call to The Campus Diner, The South End was told that Bridge cards were not accepted to pay for purchases.
The South End Workshop contributed to this story.