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    C-store Owner Sentenced in Food Stamp Fraud Case

    The single-store operator has been ordered to repay $648,000.

    PROVIDENCE, R. I. -- The former franchisee and owner of a local convenience store has been sentenced to probation for food stamp fraud dating back four years.

    Syed T. Shah of Lincoln, R.I., was sentenced to five years probation by U.S. District Court Judge John. J. McConnell Jr. on Thursday. Shah was ordered to serve the first six months in home confinement and to pay $648,000 in restitution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Hebert, who prosecuted the case, had recommended a 27-month jail sentence, according to the Department of Justice.

    On May 16, 2012, Shah admitted in court that beginning as early as July 2008 and continuing until Dec. 20, 2010, he allowed SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients to redeem their benefits for cash and ineligible items at his c-store. In return, he charged their SNAP electronic benefits card a surcharge equal to the amount of cash that was given to the recipient. Shah admitted the fraud totaled approximately $648,000.

    In addition, Shah admitted he used the funds to pay personal expenses, including a $76,652 2010 Mercedes S550V4 which he paid for in cash, the department said.

    The matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Office of Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

     

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