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Michigan pizza joint owners accused of felony fraud

You have to drive more than two and a half hours north of Ann Arbor to get a slice at Mama Cillie's Pizzeria. The little pizza shop is just steps away from Lake Budd in Harrison, Michigan.

The pizzeria's owners were recently arrested on white collar crime charges, the Clare County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

The owners are charged with food stamp fraud, a county prosecutor said. An investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan State Police determined that the owners allegedly bought a MI Bridges card to purchase food for their restaurant.

The state's Department of Health and Human Services issues the MI Bridge cards to eligible residents for assistance with food, health care and child care.

The two owners were each arraigned in district court on a single felony count of food stamp fraud of more than $1,000. They're also accused of using a computer to commit a crime, according to a news report.

Each charge carries a possible sentence of up to 10 years in state prison if convicted. In addition, a fine of up $250,000 can be assessed after a fraud conviction and an additional $10,000 for a computer-crime conviction.

Mama Cillie's Pizzeria remains open for business.

In some white collar cases, law enforcement officials misunderstand certain actions and data and incorrectly conclude that crimes have been committed. In other situations, the accused has made a mistake and wants to fix the error and get back to being a law-abiding, productive citizen.

In both situations, the harshest possible punishments of the law would be an inappropriate response.

If you have been accused of fraud or another white collar crime, discuss your legal options with a defense attorney dedicated to protecting your rights and freedom.

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