HAMMOND | One operator of a Gary convenience store has agreed to plead guilty to defrauding the federal government's food stamp program of more than $400,000.
Abdkadr Mohammad filed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors Friday in Hammond federal court.
In March, a federal grand jury indicted Moses Foods store owners Abdkadr Mohammad and Ola Mohammad, who are siblings, and their father, Rebhi Mohammad, on multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States and wire fraud.
According to the indictment, between January 2009 and July 2012, Moses Foods billed more than $1 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program redemption payments through food stamp customers' debit cards.
The funds were then wire transferred to Moses Foods’ bank account, yet roughly only $484,076 in actual food items were purchased from the store. All three defendants were authorized to use the bank account into which the SNAP redemption payments for Moses Foods were made.
The Mohammads allegedly withdrew cash from the business bank account where the SNAP benefits were deposited within a day or two of the money transfer being made, the indictment alleges. Some of those purchases were for ineligible SNAP benefits, such as tobacco, prosecutors allege.
In his plea agreement, Abdkadr Mohammad admits to one count of fraud in exchange for the dismissal of several other fraud counts. He faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release if a federal judge accepts the plea, court records state.
Cases against the other two defendents remained pending Friday in U.S. District Court, Hammond, according to court records.