Judge makes decisions on convenience store re-openings at today’s EBT fraud hearing

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Owners of locked up convenience stores will find out if they can re-open their doors. They’re in court today after EBT fraud raids last week. WIAT 42 news reporter Leigh Garner followed this story, live from the Jefferson County court house.

Judge Houston Brown heard 7 of 10 cases today – basically deciding whether or not these stores across Birmingham will stay padlocked; and the results across the day varied, case by case.

We will see some stores reopening — others will remain closed. And we haven’t even gotten to the criminal allegations yet.

Munchies of Avondale is one of the stores that will be reopening. The state’s case hinged on a witness who allegedly said she sold her EBT card at the Munchies location.

But when she was called to the stand, she chose to plead the 5th.

In speaking about his decision to grant the motion to dismiss, Judge Brown told the state, “I just don’t see it. Courts need to be protective of everybody’s rights, and I don’t like to go on suspicions.”

Brett Bloomston said, “Well it’s a bittersweet day. Of course, judge allowed us to reopen munchies and determined that there was no factual connection between allegations of wrong-doing at the store, so we’re excited about our business being opened back up.  Unfortunately, the case is not over. They’ll be another day in court.”

Bloomston says his client, Randy Shanarah, hoped to get back over $100,000 that was also seized in the raids that is part of a check cashing business.

Judge Brown will be ruling on that at a later date – as he will also be looking at three additional cases that were not heard today. Judge Brown will also have to issue an order in the next few days before any stores – including munchies – can reopen.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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