By Dave Wedge, Richard Weir and Chris Cassidy
The raids on suspected EBT-scamming businesses and arrests of accused welfare cheats in Boston and across the state yesterday were just the beginning of a law enforcement crackdown that was launched even as Gov. Deval Patrick has defended the scandal-plagued program and lawmakers bicker about reforms.
Unscrupulous merchants and welfare abusers have pilfered millions in tax dollars from just the handful of Bay State stores that were raided by state and local cops as well as federal agents yesterday, police and prosecutors said. One Quincy convenience store is suspected of ringing up $700,000 in fraudulent food stamp sales over the past two years, while a cluster of Chinatown shops is being eyed for as much as $200,000 a month in questionable charges, officials said. Bostonherald.com first reported the raids yesterday. Gov. Deval Patrick has downplayed criticism of the welfare program as “anecdotal” and dismissed the Herald’s extensive reporting of EBT abuse as an effort to make people “angry.” He was en route to a fundraiser for President Obama in Los Angeles yesterday and could not be reached for comment.