Gary store owners indicted for food stamp fraud

2013-03-21T19:45:00Z 2013-03-21T20:38:58Z Gary store owners indicted for food stamp fraudJim Masters Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 21, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

GARY | The operators of Moses Foods, 1330 Broadway, Gary, are accused of using the U.S. government’s food stamp program to reap more than $400,000 in cash benefits.

On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted the owner of Moses Foods, Ola Mohammad, her brother Abdkadr Mohammad (a manager and cashier), and their father, Rebhi Mohammad. The Mohammads face 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. These 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 in a day or two of the EBT money transfer being made, the indictment states. Some of those purchases were for ineligible SNAP benefits, such as cigarettes. They personally exchanged or directed at least one employee to exchange cash and nonfood items for SNAP recipients using their Electronic Benefit Transfer card.

Ola and Rebhi Mohammad allegedly made wire transfers of fraudulent SNAP benefits to a country (unnamed) outside the United States. SNAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, Ola and Abdkadr Mohammad allegedly hid their father’s involvement in the ownership and operation of Moses Foods until after the business was approved by the USDA as a retailer authorized to accept SNAP benefits, the indictment stated.

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