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News Release
U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island

February 23, 2014

Two Retailers Sentenced to Prison for Food Stamp Fraud, Nine Others to be Sentenced
Charges result from sweeping two-year federal investigation into
food stamp fraud by Rhode Island convenience store retailers and employees

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Two convenience store retailers have been sentenced to federal prison, nine other convenience store owners, managers and employees are scheduled to be sentenced in March, April and May, all having pleaded guilty to federal food stamp fraud charges brought as the result of a sweeping two-year federal investigation into various conspiracies to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as the food stamp program.

In September 2013, United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Retailer Investigations Branch; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; and the Rhode Island State Police announced the results of a sweeping investigation of convenience store owners, employees and others for their participation in various conspiracies and actions that defrauded the food stamp program of more than $3 million dollars.

The investigation revealed that store owners and/or employees allowed SNAP benefit recipients to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to exchange their SNAP benefits for cash, a violation of the program’s laws and regulations. In return, the defendants added a surcharge to the recipients’ withdrawal of SNAP benefits, usually an amount equal to that of the amount of cash benefit received by the recipient.

On Friday, Asra Qadir and Waqif Qadir, owners of Express Food Mart in Warwick, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the food stamp program, and Amir Rasheed, owner of Stop & Go convenience store in Providence, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the food stamp program, food stamp fraud and money laundering. Asra and Waqif Qadir are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi on May 15. Amir Rasheed is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22.

On December 19, 2013, Cristina Ramirez, owner of Cristina’s Market in Providence, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi to12 months and 1 day in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years supervised release – the first 6 months to be served in home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $399,000 to the food stamp program. Ramirez pleaded guilty on October 4, 2013, to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and money laundering.

Glenda Lopez, owner of the Dugout convenience store in Providence, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi on December 19, 2013, to 18 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years supervised release – the first 6 months to be served in home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $398,000 to the food stamp program. Lopez pleaded guilty on October 4, 2013, to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Mashhod Afzal, an employee of Stop & Go in Providence, pleaded guilty on December 9, 2013, to one count each of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and making false statements. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7; Mohamad Barbour, manager of Corner Store in Providence, pleaded guilty on December 17, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6; Karuna Mehta, manager of Stop & Go in Providence pleaded guilty on December 20, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and seven counts of food stamp fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 3, 2014; Mustafa Al Kabouni, owner of the Corner Store and the Regency Mart in Providence, pleaded guilty on February 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, three counts of food stamp fraud, eight counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 1; Mohammad Amir Al Kabouni, an employee of the Regency Mart convenience store, pleaded guilty on February 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and four counts each of food stamp fraud and wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 1; and Muhammad Eid Al Kabouni, an employee of the Regency Mart convenience store, pleaded guilty on February 7 to one count of food stamp fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 2.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Hebert and Richard B. Myrus.

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