An Iraqi immigrant who blamed himself for his ex-wife’s death in the Interstate 35W bridge collapse was sentenced to prison Tuesday, May 8, for what one federal prosecutor called “pervasive” food stamp fraud.
Khaffak Ansari, 46, of Arden Hills, owned Stryker Market in St. Paul’s West Side neighborhood. Federal agents alleged he’d cheated the government out of more than $2.5 million (Ansari contended it was less) by trading cash for food-stamp benefits that the government reimbursed him for.
In a hearing in federal court in St. Paul, U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson sentenced Ansari to three years and five months in prison, and ordered him to pay $2.4 million in restitution.
The prison term was less than the four-year sentence federal prosecutors had sought. Ansari’s attorney, John Lucas, had asked for less than 33 months.
Ansari was indicted in April 2011 on three counts of food-stamp fraud. In a plea bargain with the government in September, he pleaded guilty to a single count; the other two were dropped.
He was accused of cheating the government’s Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, between January 2006 and October 2010.
As part of the investigation, federal agents spent days sitting outside the small market, watching customers enter but noticing that few came out with groceries.
Investigators discovered that in one three-month period, there were more electronic benefit transfer (EBT) transactions at the market than at
a much larger Rainbow supermarket nearby.
In a later affidavit, an agent noted that between 2004 and 2009, the average EBT redemption for stores of Stryker Market’s size was about $322,800, but EBT transactions at Ansari’s store totaled more than $3.1 million.
Much more at Refugee Resettlement Watch including how his doctor father blames Sadaam Hussain among other things. Take some time and read through the posts there.