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MCALLEN, Texas -- A South Texas grocer has been sentenced to two years in prison for fraud in a program to help needy mothers and children.

A federal judge in McAllen on Tuesday sentenced 46-year-old Fernando Ramirez Estrada of Mission.

Estrada owned Mary s Mart in Mission, which has closed amid the investigation. Estrada in April pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud of a federally funded program.

Investigators say Estrada paid participants in the Women, Infants and Children Program cash for their benefits. He would then redeem the benefits for a higher value by filing fraudulent purchase claims.

Prosecutors say Estrada must also repay $106,000 to the government over the scheme going back to October 2004.
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