Three Sentenced in Wichita Food Stamp Fraud Case
WICHITA, KAN. – A Wichita couple who owned and operated an eastside grocery store and a food stamp recipient have been sentenced for food stamp fraud, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.
Muhammad Qadeer Akram, 47, Wichita, Kan., the former owner of Alnoor Grocery Store, 5220 E. 21st in Wichita, who was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, one count of food stamp fraud and one count of wire fraud.
Shama L. Qadeer, 38, Wichita, Kan., Muhammad Qadeer Akram’s wife, who was a co-owner of the grocery store, was sentenced to six months in federal prison and six months home confinement. She pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, one count of food stamp fraud and one count of wire fraud.
Tequita L. Higgins, 28, Wichita, Kan., was sentenced to probation. She pleaded guilty to one count of food stamp fraud.
The Qadeers were ordered to pay restitution of $450,000 including $187,000 in cash that was seized when they were arrested. A money judgment will be entered for the remainder.
In their pleas, Muhammad Qadeer Akram and Shama Qadeer admitted to entering into a conspiracy with others to defraud the United States Department of Agriculture by giving cash to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, more commonly known as food stamps, in exchange for SNAP benefits. The scheme was to give SNAP recipients cash for their benefits, about 50-to-60 cents on the dollar, and keep the rest of the benefits for themselves. They would run SNAP transactions to make it appear SNAP benefits were being used to purchase approved food items at their store. In one instance, on Nov. 5, 2010, they gave a SNAP recipient about $150 in cash in return for SNAP benefits totaling $308.79. In another instance, $503.33 was credited to their account for a SNAP transaction. They gave the SNAP recipient $250 and falsified reports to make it appear the recipient had purchased approved food items. The indictment alleged a total of $450,000 in similar transactions.
In her plea, Higgins admitted using her Vision card at Alnoor Groceries. She received about $150 in cash in return for a $308.79 SNAP transaction.
Grissom commended the USDA Office of Inspector General, Investigations, the Kansas Dept. of Social and Rehabilitation Services, the Wichita Police Department, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for their work on the case.