FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
THURSDAY - April 1, 2010
THREE DEFENDANTS SENTENCED IN “OPERATION INCONVENIENCE”
NEW BERN - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court on March 31, 2010, Chief United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan sentenced three individuals to prison terms as a part of “Operation Inconvenience,” a joint federal and local operation targeting fraudulent activity at convenience stores in Greenville, North Carolina.
AHMED ALWARAK, 64, was sentenced to 10 months in prison followed by three years’ supervised release. AHMED ABDULLAH, 25, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison followed by three years’ supervised release. FAHMI ABDULLAH, 27, was sentenced to eight and one half months in prison followed by three years’ supervised release. All three defendants are citizens of Yemen, residing in Greenville, and are to be surrendered to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation proceedings at the conclusion of their active sentences.
A Federal Grand Jury returned indictments against each defendant on August 13, 2009. At earlier hearings ALWARAK and AHMED ABDULLAH pled guilty to theft of U.S. Government property, and FAHMI ABDULLAH pled guilty to conspiracy to receive stolen property and to steal U.S. Government property.
ALWARAK operated two convenience stores, Greenville Stop One and Greenville Stop Two. Between December, 2008, and July, 2009, an undercover operative sold cigarettes represented to have been stolen to ALWARAK for resale at the stores. The undercover operative also sold ALWARAK a number of U.S. Department of Agriculture Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards at heavily discounted prices. The EBT cards, designed to provide food assistance to low income individuals, were then used to purchase merchandise for resale at Greenville Stops One and Two. ALWARAK’s actions resulted in a loss to the Government of over $24,000.00.
ABDUL ABDULLAH operated a convenience store known as the Pitt Stop. His brother, FAHMI ABDULLAH, was employed at the store. During the same time frame, the same undercover operative sold both stolen cigarettes and EBT cards to both defendants. It is believed that some of the cigarettes were shipped out of North Carolina and some were resold at the Pitt Stop. The EBT cards were used to purchase merchandise for resale at the Pitt Stop. The actions of the ABDULLAH’s resulted in a loss to the Government of just over $30,000.00.
As a result of Operation Inconvenience, all three stores were shut down following the filing of nuisance abatement actions by the City of Greenville. As of this date, Greenville Stop Two has been torn down, while litigation continues regarding Greenville Stop One and the Pitt Stop. As a result of the closures, the Greenville Police Department reports a drastic reduction in calls answered to these locations, which also attracted drug trafficking and other illegal activity.
Operation Inconvenience is a joint investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenville Police Department, with the assistance of the Pitt County District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the City Attorney of Greenville. Assistant United States Attorney John Bennett represented the government.
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