State police are searching for an illegal immigrant accused of running a million-dollar food stamp scam after they say he cut off his court-ordered GPS monitoring bracelet and went on the run just as his high-profile fraud and money laundering trial was set to begin.

Martin B. Santiago, 49, of the Dominican Republic was slated to go to trial yesterday. But when he didn’t show up to court, state police say investigators realized he had “forcibly removed” the monitoring device about 6 a.m. Santiago was set to go before a jury for his alleged involvement in a $1.5 million scheme to fraudulently sell food stamps and launder money through his three stores in Lawrence. State police say Santiago was arrested for the scam in June 2015 and had been wearing an ankle bracelet while awaiting trial after posting $75,000 cash bail.

Authorities are now turning to the public for help finding Santiago, who they describe as a 5-foot, 11-inch Hispanic man weighing about 190 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. State police say Santiago — who is fluent in Spanish and has also gone by Mark Santiago and Martin Billone Santiago — has ties to the Lawrence and Methuen areas.

Anyone with information about Santiago’s whereabouts is urged to call state police at 800-527-8873.


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