Area store manager allegedly traded food benefits for cash, police say

Published 11:38 pm Friday, September 29, 2023

The manager of a Beaumont convenience store who was charged with illegally exchanging more than $1,500 worth of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for cash was indicted this week.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a Food Nutrition Service supervisor contacted an inspector general with the Health and Human Services Commission May 10 regarding More 4 Less at 2945 College St.

One of the investigators reportedly exchanged approximately $1,000 in SNAP benefits for cash, and the agencies discussed whether to proceed with a criminal case. The answer was yes.

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Two undercover transactions were reportedly made at the store, one June 27 and another June 29 in which $737.99 in SNAP benefits was exchanged for $371 in cash allegedly with the store’s manager, Tharaka Darsha M. Karunakeerthi, 37, of Beaumont.

The total amount of fraud was $1,590.36.

Karunakeerthi was arrested on Sept. 14 on a charge of SNAP use/alteration/transfer more than $200, a third degree felony.

Bond was set at $7,500, and he bonded out the same day, according to information from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

An indictment is not a final conviction of guilt; it is only a ruling by the grand jury that allows the district attorney’s office to proceed with a criminal case.