PROVIDENCE — A two-year federal investigation into food-stamp fraud has resulted in nine merchants involved withfive convenience stores in the city being charged in connection with the theft of more than $3 million from the program designed to provide food to many of the state’s neediest residents.
Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, announced at a news conference Thursday with a host of other federal and state officials the charges involving the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP.
The merchants allegedly allowed food-stamp recipients to trade their benefits for cash. In exchange, the merchants are accused of adding a substantial surcharge for the illegal service, frequently as much as the cash that was dispensed. Under federal law, food stamps are not allowed to be used to get cash, tobacco products or other goods that do not provide nutritional benefits.
“Some chose to line their own pockets to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars at the taxpayers’ expense,” Neronha said.
He credited undercover investigators and the authorities who combed through thousands of bank records, tax filings and documents involving the stores that were seized April 1 through court-authorized search warrants.
The businessesare Corner Store, 549B Broad St.; Regency Mart, 3 Regency Plaza; Stop & Go Inc., 776 Douglas Ave.; Dugout, 97 Burnside St.; and Cristina’s Market, 524 Smith St.
Arrested are Mustafa Al Kabouni, 52, of Cranston; Mohamad Barbour, 53, of North Providence; Mohamad Amir Al Kabouni, 43, of North Providence; and Mohamad Eid Al Kabouni, 22, of Cranston. The Kabounis and Barbour owned or ran Regency Mart and Corner Store.
Also, Amir Rasheed, 33, of Flushing, N.Y.; Karuna Mehta, 43, of North Smithfield; Cristina Ramirez, 37, of Providence; Glena Lopez, 39, of West Warwick; and Farhan Mustafa, 37, of Providence.
Rasheed is owner of Stop & Go, while Mehta managed the store. Ramirez owns Cristina’s Market. Mustafa is accused of falsely filing an application with the government for the food-stamp program claiming that his corporation owned the Corner Store.
They have all been indicted by a federal grand jury or charged through information filings in connection with fraud.
Records filed in U.S. District Court in Providence show that Farhan Mustafa, Glenda Lopez and Cristina Ramirez have also signed agreements admitting their guilt in connection with food-stamp fraud.
h/t to Refugee Resettlement Watch who has this to add:
As is the usual case, the story has nothing about the immigration status of the perps. Someone really needs to figure out through what program(s) all of these immigrants are using to set up the convenience stores. I don’t think its a coincidence that ‘Mom & Pop’ groceries are increasingly owned/managed by foreign interests.
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