Grier Heights grocer arrested in food stamp scam

Police and federal agents have arrested a store owner in Grier Heights who they say was swiping food stamp cards and keeping a portion of the money himself.

Thomas Westley Taylor, 66, is charged with 11 counts of felony accessing a government computer, 11 counts of felony illegal possession or use of electronic food and nutrition benefits, and 11 counts of misdemeanor illegal possession or use of electronic food and nutrition benefits.

Taylor’s arrest was an offshoot of an investigation into open-air drug sales in Grier Heights, which has struggled with violent crime for decades. During the investigation, officers received information that food stamp fraud was taking place inside Taylor’s sandwich shop on Sam Drenan Road.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police called in the Mecklenburg Department of Social Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s office of the inspector general to help in the investigation.

They executed a search warrant on Monday and seized EBT machines, cash, a stolen gun and documentation of the alleged illegal activity from Taylor’s store.

The federal government’s electronic benefit transfer program replaced food stamps. Needy families are given a debit-like card, which they can use to buy food.

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