Man accused of buying others’ SNAP cards

Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 8:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 8:29 p.m.

A Gainesville man accused of paying cash for food assistance cards at a reduced cost and then using them to buy groceries was arrested by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday.

Greg Liuzzo, 55, of 4816 SW 80th Place, was charged following an undercover investigation that began when authorities got a tip that he was buying Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards, sheriff’s spokesman Art Forgey said.

“He was buying SNAP cards from people for half or less of what was on the cards and he would go purchase his own groceries on them,” Forgey said. “We got turned onto it and started an undercover investigation, and used the state’s help on it. It’s been going on since September.”

A search warrant was served on Liuzzo at his home, charging him with aiding and abetting public fraud, obtaining property by false personation, misrepresenting personal identification information and racketeering.

Forgey did not have a total value of the fraud but said it will be substantial.

A transaction outlined in his arrest report states Liuzzo paid $50 for a card that had $100 left on it. He used it at the Publix on Williston Road to buy groceries.

In another transaction, he reportedly bought a card with $200 in credit on it for $100. He is accused of buying items from a Sam’s Club in Melbourne with one of the cards.

Forgey added additional arrests are possible, noting that selling the cards is illegal.

“I think the people that were selling the cards were committing fraud too,” Forgey said. “(Detectives) have several people identified who were doing that, so I anticipate additional arrests.”

Liuzzo often returned the cards to the people to whom they were issued so they could be reloaded and bought again by Liuzzo, Forgey added.

SNAP, originally known as the food stamp program, was instituted in 1939. It allows individuals or families to buy nourishing food they might not otherwise be able to afford. The benefit each recipient receives is based on family size, income and assets.

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