Iowa grocer sentenced for food stamp fraud

A federal judge has sentenced a former Centerville City Council member to one year of probation and a $100,000 fine for witness tampering.

Kris Erhardt Koestner was accused of allowing customers to buy ineligible items, set up credit accounts and pay for rent using their food stamp benefits.

Prosecutors say Koestner pleaded guilty in January to tampering with a witness. He allegedly instructed the person to tell investigators he only purchased food items at the grocery.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that Koestner also was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and pay $100 to the Crime Victim Fund.

Koestner and J&K Market were disqualified from participating in the food stamp program in 1996 after an earlier investigation found he was in violation of food stamp regulations. The store was reinstated a year later.

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