Six people have been arrested in connection with a six-month investigation into food stamp card fraud in Wilkinson County.
Operation Handout targeted two Wilkinson County stores -- Shinholsters Grocery & Meat Market in Irwinton and Northwind Mini-Mart in McIntyre -- on allegations the stores were cashing out food stamp cards for cash to cardholders for a 70/30 split of the proceeds, according to a Wilkinson County Sheriffs Office news release.
Undercover officers made several transactions for cash.
Investigators allege that Shinholsters Grocery & Meat Market employees committed transaction card fraud in the majority of the businesss more than $4.5 million of food stamp card transactions between 2006 and 2011. Employees of Northwind Mini-Mart are accused of committing transaction card fraud in the majority of the stores more than $1.5 million of food stamp card transactions between 2009 and 2011, according to the news release.
On Monday, authorities arrested the six people, including the owners of the two stores, said Tom Davis, special agent in charge of the GBIs Milledgeville field office.
Search warrants also were served at the owners homes and at the businesses Monday, he said.
More than $250,000 in cash was seized as a result of the warrants, according to the sheriffs office.
Sheriff Richard Chatman declined to comment Tuesday.
Elbert Eugene Shinholster Sr., 75, of Irwinton, the owner of Shinholster Grocery, was charged with financial transaction card fraud, theft by conversion and a violation of the Georgia Racketeer and Corruption Act, according to the release.
Elbert Eugene Shinholster Jr., 46, of McIntyre, Rashaun Shinholster, 27, of McIntyre, and Ryan Shinholster, 24, of McIntyre, were arrested on the same charges, according to the release.
Alfred Boyd, 57, of Irwinton, the owner of Northwind Mini-Mart, and Chiquita Boyd, 35, of Irwinton, were charged with financial transaction card fraud, theft by conversion and a violation of the Georgia Racketeer and Corruption Act, according to the release.
By late afternoon Tuesday, each of the six people arrested was released on a $15,000 bond except Rashaun Shinholster, who was being held on a probation violation, according to the sheriffs office.
The investigation was a joint effort involving the sheriffs office, Georgia Department of Human Services, GBI, FBI, U.S. Treasury Department, Ocmulgee Drug Task Force and the Georgia Department of Revenue.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.