FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dec. 5, 2012
HIGH-CRIME HUNTINGTON CONVENIENCE STORE DEMOLISHED FOLLOWING FEDERAL PROSECUTION
All-In-One Store Demolition Another Major Step Forward for Fairfield District Revitalization
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, joined by Huntington Mayor Kim Wolfe and Mayor-elect Steve Williams, Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook, and community leaders, took part in the demolition of the former All-In-One convenience store in Huntington’s Fairfield neighborhood. The store was a long-time magnet for crime and illegal drug activity. In September, the store’s owner, Abderahamane Eloirzazi, pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges. Federal prosecutors required him to hand over the store to the City of Huntington as a condition of his plea.
U.S. Attorney Goodwin said, “The All-In-One store wasn’t just a crooked business, it was a dangerous blight on this city. As I said when we charged the store’s owner, eliminating a criminal stronghold like this can fundamentally change the character of a neighborhood. By tearing it down and putting the land in city hands, we’ve taken a step toward an even safer Huntington and a brighter future for Fairfield.”
Goodwin continued, “When the Governor, General Hoyer and I were here three months ago, the most recent effort was just getting started: removing broken down abandoned structures that were more than eyesores--they were magnets for crime. Through that project, 54 such structures were removed.
“Taking out those 54 nests of criminal activity is sure to do an enormous amount of good, but today we are here to take out the hive. This store was by far the hottest hot spot for criminal activity in this neighborhood. Thanks to the investigative work that was led by Chief Holbrook and the Huntington Police Department, my office was able to put together an effective prosecution of the owner of this operation and put it out of business for good.”
Eloirzazi, 34, of Huntington, previously pleaded guilty in September to defrauding the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), formerly known as the food stamp program. The All-In-One store was closed down permanently and transferred to the city as a result of the prosecution.
Eloirzazi admitted that he conspired with other known individuals in an illegal scheme to pay cash for federal food benefits. During the scheme, Eloirzazi gave only 50 to 65 cents on the dollar for the SNAP benefits and then pocketed the rest, reaping large profits from the illegal transactions.
Eloirzazi faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on December 10, 2012 by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers. He will also owe restitution in the amount of $127,000.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia has worked closely with Huntington officials in recent years, implementing a broad anti-crime strategy that includes federal funding and a successful drug market intervention program. Crime in Fairfield has dropped sharply.
In September, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, along with West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the West Virginia National Guard, and Huntington officials, took part in a major demolition project that removed more than 50 blighted structures from Huntington’s Fairfield neighborhood.
Click here to view a photo from today’s demolition