PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Sami Almuhtaseb, 45, of Smithfield, R.I., owner of Oasis Market, a convenience store located in Providence, pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of more than $1.1 million dollars. Almuhtaseb admitted to the court that he allowed SNAP recipients to exchange food stamp benefits for cash, in return charging them a surcharge of 100% which he pocketed.
According to information presented to the court, between November 2009 and December 2015, the defendant’s store redeemed $2,755,125 in SNAP benefits. Over $1,259,320.99 or 45% of the food stamp transactions were for transactions of $100 or more. Over 72% of the SNAP transactions at the store were from transactions in excess of $50. Legitimate SNAP transactions at a convenience store rarely involve a transaction of $50 or more.
According to court documents, at least $1.1 million dollars worth of the SNAP funds received by Almuhtaseb were the result of fraudulent transactions. These fraudulently obtained funds were deposited into two bank accounts controlled by Almuhtaseb. The defendant withdrew over $770,000 in cash or checks payable to himself from these two accounts. An analysis of bank records revealed that the Almuhtaseb also withdrew over $40,000 of cash from one of the accounts at ATMs located at casinos.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, Sami Almuhtaseb pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program fraud and to money laundering.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 22, 2016.
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