Three men have been arrested in a growing crackdown on welfare fraud.
State agents, police, even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives took part in a raid at Chuck’s at 18th Street and Teutonia Avenue and at All Star Food and Beer at 27th and Burleigh streets.
A months-long investigation led police to All Star Food and Beer on Wednesday. They arrested the owner, Ali Yousef Aldarorah, and a clerk, Belkasim Moftah, accusing them of defrauding a program that aims to feed poor women and children.
“The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) checks for infant formulas can be worth as much as $100 to the stores,” Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Feiss said.
Feiss said the men were recorded numerous times by an undercover informant giving customers cash in exchange for their vouchers — at about half the check’s value or less — instead of food or formula.
“And that’s really the real harm and shame of this is money we’re providing to people to make sure that young children, infants, have good nutrition so they can get a solid start in life, that money is not being used how it’s intended to be used. Rather it’s being converted to other uses,” Feiss said.
It’s being converted to cash, which Feiss said often pays for drugs and alcohol. At Chuck’s, owner Hesham Al-Ali is accused of defrauding taxpayers out of at least $20,000.
This follows WISN 12 News’ story last month where WISN 12 News reporter Nick Bohr confronted another store owner, facing felony charges for a similar scheme on the south side.
“We think it is much more widespread. We’ll be continuing to investigate, and I guess we’re looking at how can we put a dent in this,” Feiss said.
It’s a crime, for WIC participants to trade their vouchers for cash. Investigators said they will be looking over the records to see if any customers could also be charged.
In unrelated news, Wisconsin’s first lady was visiting a mosque just a few scant weeks ago: