Monday, August 5, 2013

Local Couple Arrested In Salad Bar Fraud Sting

By James J. Hamilton
PITTSBURGH—A local married couple was arrested on charges of fraud this weekend in an FBI sting operation at the Eat'n Park restaurant in Robinson Township. Herman and Julia Swanson, both 65, were having an uneventful dinner at Eat'n Park, like they do every Sunday, when their table was suddenly swarmed by federal agents who handcuffed them and took them away in unmarked black SUVs. 

At a Monday morning press conference, FBI Special Agent Dennis Manning told reporters that the Swansons' arrest was the culmination of a months-long investigation by the FBI's Western Pennsylvania Salad Bar Fraud Task Force. 

"Every Sunday for the past several months," Manning said, "the Swansons would arrive at the Eat'n Park restaurant at approximately 4:30 p.m. and would be seated at the same table in the southwest corner of the restaurant. On each occasion, Julia would order the rosemary chicken with sides of coleslaw and mashed potatoes. Herman would order the mile-high meatloaf and the salad bar. Herman would then proceed to obtain items from the salad bar and give them to Julia—soup, macaroni salad, cottage cheese, etc.—even though Julia had not ordered the salad bar."

Legal analysts say the Swansons, who have no prior criminal record, could face a maximum of 15 years imprisonment in a federal penitentiary and fines of up to $250,000.

"We're living in a society," Manning said. "The salad bar is all you can eat, not all everyone in your family can eat. That's chaos."

Manning confirmed that he spent months working undercover as an Eat'n Park waiter in order to help bring the Swansons to justice. "I'm just glad it's all over and I can go back to my family," he said.

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