WESTLAKE, OH — A Westlake man is being accused of running an illegal slaughterhouse and dumping animal blood into a stream, polluting the water. He is also accused of engaging in food stamp fraud.
The indictments against Amin Salem, 59, of Westlake, said he owned several Cleveland-area gas stations. The gas stations reportedly accepted Electronic Benefits Transactions (EBT), as part of the SNAP program (formerly called food stamps). Amin’s son, Mohamed, managed the gas station’s benefits on behalf of his father, the indictments said.
Both the gas stations and the EBT terminals were in the Mohamed’s name, because Amin had been previously convicted of food stamp fraud and related crimes, the Department of Justice said. The indictments said the gas station terminals were used by both Salems to process more than $2.7 million in fraudulent SNAP transactions between 2010 and 2016.
Salem is also accused of slaughtering lambs and goats at his property on Stang Road in 2015 and 2016. The indictments said he then sold the meat, without inspection. He also caused the discharge of blood and other bodily fluids, from the slaughtered animals, into Engle Ditch, which flows into the Black River and then Lake Erie, the indictments said.
“The defendant is alleged to have illegally discharged waste from an animal slaughtering operation into a local stream,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Ohio. “This case demonstrates that EPA and its law enforcement partners will pursue those who violate laws designed to protect the health of our communities and the environment.”
Mohamed then sold the meat, letting customers pay for the uninspected lamb and goat using SNAP cards, the indictment said. The money was then deposited into accounts controlled by the Salems.
Salem was indicted on one count each of conspiracy to launder money and engaging in real estate transactions using laundered funds. He is also being charged with making unpermitted discharges into a waterway, one count of distribution of adulterated, misbranded, or uninspected meat and one count of being in possession of a stolen firearm.
Amin’s son, Mohamed, is also being charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods.
The Department of Justice said Salem has a history of food stamp fraud, and some of his charges stem from accepting food stamps at Cleveland-area gas stations and then laundering profits.
“This father and son duo engaged in various illegalities to include stealing from every taxpaying citizen by engaging in food stamp fraud, a program designed to help those in need,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Hughes. “Salem put others at risk by selling unsanitary, unregulated food. The FBI will continue to work with our federal and local law enforcement partners to ensure fraudsters like these are held accountable.”
But the FBI and other government agencies are doing nothing. The Salem’s are repeat offenders who still own multiple properties from which they commit their fraudulent activities to plunder taxpayers.
Several gas station managers across Cleveland seemed to be confused yesterday when federal agents stormed their businesses unannounced.
But what they may also have in common are Amin and Mohamed Salem, a father and son, who own many of those stations and who are once again at the center of a federal investigation.
Documents released Thursday reveal that they are being looked at for illegally processing food stamps.
They are also suspected of illegally processing food, by running a slaughterhouse in Lorain County that allegedly sold diseased meat to at least four local businesses.
According to an affidavit, the family owns dozens of acres in Elyria which include a farm on Stang Road where federal agents found two slaughtered lambs earlier this year.
Investigators believe the Salems sold their meat to Kan Zaman Restaurant on West 25th Street, Kebab Station on Lorain Road in Cleveland, the Yahala Bakery and Grill in North Olmsted, and the Olive Tree Food Corporation in North Olmsted.
Yet Olive Tree’s owner tells WKYC Channel 3 News that it must be a mistake, since she claims their meat comes from Columbus and not Elyria.
“It is wrong, we never have meat from them,” she said. “It is a surprise.”
She believes the father and son own the building they rent, which might explain how her store ended up in the affidavit.
Sam, who owns the Yahala Bakery and Grill across the street, tells Channel 3 News that his meat comes from Michigan.
The affidavit states the father and son obtained their livestock from a farm in Quaker City, Ohio and indicates they may have purchased as many as 525 sheep there.
Amin Salem has already served time twice for tampering with the food stamp program.
His family owns at least 7 gas stations across Cleveland in addition to 4 farms in Lorain County.