FORT WAYNE – A local restaurant owner is accused of illegally using welfare benefits belonging to others to stock his south-side soul food restaurant.
Allen County prosecutors filed a slew of charges Thursday against Stanley Collins, 50, including felony counts of theft, corrupt business influence and welfare fraud.
Collins operates Captain Black’s Eatery at South Lafayette and St. Martins streets.
Friday, smoke billowed from an outdoor cooker in the restaurant’s parking lot and the doors were open, but Collins was a no-show.
Chief among the prosecutors’ accusations is that Collins conspired with 25 other people and used their food stamps to buy food to be sold at the restaurant.
Collins is also accused of trying to steal copper from OmniSource on Sunday.
I don’t know anything just yet, said Greg Weems, who was manning the counter inside Captain Black’s on Friday.
I’m just trying to keep things running. He’s a friend of mine.
According to the court documents, Collins would sometimes give his Sam’s Club or Gordon Food Service membership cards to people who receive food stamps.
These people would then go into the stores and buy products using their food stamps – such as ribs, rib tips and chicken wings. That food would then end up on the restaurant’s menu, court records said.
Sometimes, Collins himself would go into the stores and buy the food using these people’s food stamps.
Some of the purchases were made using normal food stamps; others were done with an Electronic Benefit Transfer card, which is like a debit card for food stamp users, according to court records.
In total, Collins is accused of making $16,595 worth of illegal purchases that benefited his restaurant between January 2011 and July 2012.
While the court documents name more than two dozen people involved in helping Collins, none of them have yet to be charged, according to an Allen County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman.
In the other case against Collins, he and James J. Hines were arrested Sunday after Hines, 46, was caught using a ladder to scale a 12-foot wall at an OmniSource property and removing copper materials from a bin.
Collins was waiting outside the OmniSource property with a truck to load the materials, court documents said.
Collins was being held at Allen County Jail in lieu of bail amounts of $12,500 and $22,500 in the two cases.