MARIETTA CONVENIENCE-STORE OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO FOOD STAMP FRAUD
November 22, 2011
Convenience Store Owner Received Over $500,000 Under The Table
ATLANTA, GA - SHAMSHA MIRZA VASAYA, 30, of Marietta, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to federal charges relating to a scheme to defraud the United States Department of Agriculture by allowing customers of her convenience store to trade their food-stamp benefits for alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, gasoline, and cash.
Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said of the case, “Food stamps are intended to provide assistance to our fellow citizens most in need. This defendant took a program intended to provide a helping hand, and turned it into an ATM. Now she is headed to prison.”
“The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Investigations Division will remain diligent in working with the United States Attorney's Office and other federal, state and local law enforcement entities to investigate and prosecute individuals who defraud the taxpayers of this country by illegally purchasing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT/food stamp) benefits,” said Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.
According to United States Attorney Yates and other information presented in court: VASAYA owned and operated the “Chevron Food Mart” located at 811 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta, Georgia. From approximately June 2009 through July 2011, VASAYA allowed customers to use their food stamp benefits to purchase ineligible items, including alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and gasoline. VASAYA also allowed customers to exchange their food stamp benefits for cash at the rate of 50 cents on the dollar. VASAYA's fraudulent scheme netted her approximately $557,421.32.
Today VASAYA pleaded guilty to a Criminal Information charging her with food stamp fraud. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for January 24, 2012, at 10 a.m., before United States District Judge Steve C. Jones. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Investigations Division.
Assistant United States Attorney Russell Phillips is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.usdoj.gov/usao/gan.