Owner of Salwa Foods Sentenced for Defrauding
U.S. Department of Agriculture
ATLANTA - Mushtaq “Mike” Mistry, 47, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, who submitted over $300,000 in false claims to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was sentenced today by United States District Judge Amy Totenberg to serve 12 months and 1 day in federal prison on charges of wire fraud.
“This defendant abused a federal program designed to help companies in the United States market and sell their products internationally,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “In this time of federal belt-tightening, it is essential to detect and prevent federal program fraud in order to preserve these resources for the individuals and small businesses that truly need them.”
“USDA is committed to working jointly with the United States Attorney's Office and other federal, state, and local agencies to investigate and prosecute those individuals who defraud its programs, whether those programs are administered domestically or internationally,” said Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent in Charge, Southeastern Region, USDA-OIG.
“The submission of false claims to a federal agency is a serious offense,” stated Donald B. Yaden, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge. “Mushtaq Mistry took advantage of the very program that was designed to assist him and his business. We hope that the sentence announced today assures the American taxpayer that IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners, will devote the necessary resources to investigate these types of financial crimes.”
Mistry was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, 6 months of home confinement, and 500 hours of community service. Mistry was also ordered to pay $342,500 in restitution to the Commodity Credit Corporation. Mistry was convicted of these charges on September 4, 2012, upon his plea of guilty.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Mushtaq “Mike” Mistry was the owner of Salwa Foods, a halal frozen food company located in Lawrenceville, Georgia. From April 2007 through August 2009, Mistry submitted false claims under the USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) to be reimbursed for the cost of television advertising in Dubai for Salwa Foods products. MAP uses federal funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation to help domestic companies finance promotional activities abroad for United States agricultural products. The program is administered in Georgia through the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA). Mistry defrauded the MAP by providing the USDA with falsified documentation, including invoices and checks, indicating that he had made payments to Dubai television networks for Salwa Foods advertisements to air in the United Arab Emirates. However, the claims submitted did not correspond to any actual payments made to air television commercials in the United Arab Emirates. Over the course of his scheme to defraud the USDA, Mistry obtained $342,500 in SUSTA payments.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General.
Assistant United States Attorney Shanya J. Dingle prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.