Natrona Convenience Store Owner Pleads Guilty to Food Stamp Fraud
PITTSBURGH – A convenience store owner pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiracy, food stamp fraud and money laundering, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Waqar A. Malik, 56, of Cheswick, Pa., pleaded guilty to three counts before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
In connection with the guilty plea, Malik, the owner of the Natrona Mart in Natrona, Pa., allowed federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp beneficiaries to purchase non-eligible items such as cigarettes, tobacco products and soap with their EBT benefit card. Because of these transactions, Malik received funds from the United States government to which he was not entitled.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 35 years in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Waqar A. Malik.