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5 Face Charges in $7-Million Coupon Scheme

March 16, 1997| Reuters

PHILADELPHIA — Four supermarket owners and a manager were charged with fraud and tax violations in connection with an alleged scheme to redeem about $7 million in coupons for products never sold, authorities said Thursday.

The five operators of Shop n' Bag supermarkets were expected to surrender soon following the filing of federal charges, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the five bought nearly 12 million coupons for 20% to 30% of their face value then redeemed them.

Charged with mail fraud and tax evasion were Earle Shprintz and his son, Jeff, co-owners of five Shop n' Bag stores. Their manager, Fred Heck, also was charged. They face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and a $1-million fine if convicted.

In a separate case, Mark Basher and Gary Ciurlino, co-owners of three stores, were charged with mail fraud and filing a false tax return. They face sentences of up to 100 years in prison and $6-million fines.

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