LEWISTON — The owner of a local variety store continues to accept government subsidized food benefits, formerly known as food stamps, while he awaits trial on a welfare fraud charge.
Andre Beaupre, 61, of Auburn, owner of Union Supermarket at Union and Oak streets, was indicted last summer on a felony charge of theft by deception. He is accused of defrauding the federal welfare system of more than $5,000 over five years by accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for non-allowable items.
Local police had fielded public inquiries about the status of Beaupre's SNAP operation.
Beaupre, who was arraigned in June, is awaiting trial.
Meanwhile, a federal investigator said no administrative action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture likely will be taken against Beaupre until after his criminal court case has been resolved, according to Assistant Maine Attorney General Leanne Robbin. Federal administrative action is delayed so as not to interfere with the state's criminal case, she said.
Beaupre is accused of allowing some of his regular customers to buy products such as cigarettes and liquor with SNAP benefits. Police said that by letting his customers do so, he gave himself an advantage over other stores that can't legally accept those payments for liquor, cigarettes and other banned items, such as hot, prepared foods.
According to the indictment, Beaupre is accused of committing the fraud between June 2006 through September 2011.
If convicted of theft, Beaupre faces up to five years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.