Rhode Island C-store Owners Plead Guilty to Food Stamp Fraud | ConvenienceStoreNews
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    Rhode Island C-store Owners Plead Guilty to Food Stamp Fraud

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A two-year federal investigation resulted in the sentencing of two Rhode Island convenience store retailers to federal prison after they plead guilty to food stamp fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. Nine other Rhode Island c-store owners, managers and employees are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming months following their own guilty pleas.

    The coordinated investigation involved U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Retailer Investigations Branch; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; and the Rhode Island State Police.

    The investigation revealed that the defendants defrauded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of more than $3 million.

    Store owners and/or their employees violated the program's laws and regulations by allowing SNAP benefit recipients to exchange those benefits for cash. The defendants then added a surcharge to the recipients' withdrawal of SNAP benefits that was usually equal to the amount of cash exchanged.

    The defendants include:

    • Asra Qadir and Waqif Qadir, owners of Express Food Mart in Warwick, R.I., pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to conspiring to defraud the food stamp program. The Qadirs are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi on May 15.
       
    • Amir Rasheed, owner of Stop & Go c-store in Providence, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the food stamp program, food stamp fraud and money laundering. Rasheed is scheduled to be sentenced May 22.
       
    • Cristina Ramirez, owner of Cristina’s Market in Providence, was sentenced by Lisi on Dec. 19 to 12 months and one day in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, with the first six months to be served in home confinement. Ramirez was also ordered to pay $399,000 in restitution to SNAP. Ramirez pleaded guilty Oct. 4 to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and money laundering.
       
    • Glenda Lopez, owner of the Dugout convenience store in Providence, was sentenced by Lisi on Dec. 19 to 18 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, with the first six months to be served in home confinement. Lopez was also ordered to pay $398,000 in restitution to SNAP. Lopez pleaded guilty on Oct. 4 to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return.
       
    • Stop & Go employee Mashhod Afzal pleaded guilty Dec. 9 to one count each of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and making false statements. Afzal is scheduled to be sentenced March 7.
       
    • Corner Store manager Mohamad Barbour pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced March 6.
       
    • Stop & Go manager Karuna Mehta pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and seven counts of food stamp fraud. Mehta is scheduled to be sentenced April 3.
       
    • Mustafa Al Kabouni, owner of the Corner Store and the Regency Mart in Providence pleaded guilty Feb. 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, three counts of food stamp fraud, eight counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering, and is scheduled to be sentenced May 1.
       
    • Regency Mart employee Mohammad Amir Al Kabouni pleaded guilty Feb. 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and four counts each of food stamp fraud and wire fraud, and is scheduled to be sentenced May 1.
       
    • Regency Mart employee Muhammad Eid Al Kabouni pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to one count of food stamp fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced May 2.

    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Hebert and Richard B. Myrus are prosecuting the cases.

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