UNITED STATES ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES
RESULTS OF CRACKDOWN ON FOOD STAMP FRAUD
United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade was joined today by Special Agent-in-Charge Joe N. Smith, United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent-in-Charge Erik Martinez, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue, Director, Michigan State Police to highlight the district's work in combating fraud against the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) (Food Stamp Program).
Today's announcement comes at the conclusion of a two-week federal search and arrest warrant operation which targeted numerous Southeast Michigan retailers engaged in the fraudulent practice of redeeming food stamp benefits for cash (trafficking), and allowing food stamp benefits to be exchanged for items such as tobacco, liquor, clothing, household appliances and furnishings, contrary to federal regulations.
Retail establishments targeted in the warrant sweep include:
Dollar City, 8669 Rosa Parks Blvd, Detroit, Michigan. Yousef "Joe" Haddad, owner of Dollar City and resident of Canton, Michigan, was arrested on charges of Food Stamp Fraud.
Dollar & Party, 4905 Conner Street, Detroit, Michigan. Khalil "Kelly" Haddad, owner of Dollar City and resident of Canton, Michigan, was arrested on charges of Food Stamp Fraud.
Dollar Palace, 27175 Cherry Hill Road, Inkster, Michigan. Tony Gumma, owner of Dollar Palace and resident of Sterling Heights, Michigan, was arrested on charges of Wire Fraud.
H&J Fish Market, 8910 Wyoming Street, Detroit, Michigan. Jihad "Jim" Sayed, owner of H&J Fish, and resident of Dearborn, Michigan, was arrested on charges of Wire Fraud.
Caesar Food Center, 880 West McNichols, Detroit, Michigan. Ayad Yatooma, owner of Caesar Food Center, and resident of Shelby Township, and Adnan Kejbou, resident of Troy, Michigan, were arrested on charges of Food Stamp Fraud.
King Cole Foods, 40 Clairmount Street, Detroit, Michigan. Ghazi "Gary" Manni, resident of Sterling Heights, Michigan, and Adil "Eddie" Manni, resident of West Bloomfield, Michigan, owners of King Cole Foods were arrested on charges of Food Stamp Fraud.
Country Farm Market, 701 Orchard Lake Road, Pontiac, Michigan. Country Farm Market is owned by Kushaba and Philips Hermiz of Rochester, Michigan.
6 Mile Express, 10208 West McNichols Road, Detroit, Michigan. Daymond Pondexter, owner of 6 Mile Express and resident of Birmingham, Michigan, was arrested on charges of Food Stamp Fraud.
30th Street Market, 4721 30th Street, Detroit, Michigan. Ursula A. Grigsby, owner of 30th Street, and resident of Detroit, Michigan was arrested on charges of Wire Fraud.
"Taxpayers in Michigan fund the food stamp program to provide food for the needy, not to create a commodity to be traded for profit," McQuade said. "We will work to ensure that food assistance programs are not abused."
Special Agent in Charge Joe N. Smith stated "The Office of Inspector General (OIG) will continue to dedicate resources to investigating retailers who commit fraud in vital USDA food assistance programs. OIG's objectives are to protect the integrity of USDA nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP and to stop unscrupulous retailers from taking advantage of low-income individuals during these tough economic times. As we conduct fraud investigations throughout the State of Michigan, we appreciate the support of our Federal and State law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney's Office's long-term commitment to prosecuting crimes against SNAP."
"This is another positive step in our ongoing effort to combat food stamp fraud," IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge, Erick Martinez. "The activities over the past days demonstrate our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust."
Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue stated, "The Michigan State Police recognizes the importance of pooling resources through a cooperative effort with our federal counterparts to combat criminal activity at all levels. Especially in these trying times, criminals do great harm to a system that supports those less fortunate by committing the crime of fraud. The United States Attorney's Office has the appreciation of the Michigan State Police for its efforts in bringing these cases to justice."
The USDA, Office of Inspector General, Michigan State Police and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation has collaborated since 2007 to address food stamp trafficking throughout the state of Michigan. To date, the initiative, termed the Bridge Card Enforcement Team (BCET), has resulted in 125 arrests, 169 search warrants, 98 guilty pleas, lengthy incarceration periods, approximately $21.1 million in court ordered fines and restitution, and $3.2 million in forfeiture. Prosecution has been spearheaded by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan, and the Michigan Attorney General's Office.
The United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations provided assistance throughout the warrant sweep. Prosecution is being coordinated by Assistant United States Attorneys Craig Weier, Chris Varner, Graham Teall, and Stephen Hiyama