FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Jan. 7, 2013
FORMER HUNTINGTON CONVENIENCE STORE OWNER SENTENCED TO PRISON TIME FOR FEDERAL FOOD STAMP FRAUD
All-In-One store was demolished in Huntington’s Fairfield district in December
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a former Huntington convenience store owner was sentenced to six months in federal prison and six months of home confinement followed by three years of supervised release for defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Abderahamane Eloirzazi, also known as Abe, 44, of Huntington, was the owner and operator of the All-In-One convenience store formerly located on 9th Avenue in Huntington. The store, once a magnet for crime in Huntington’s Fairfield neighborhood, was demolished in December following the defendant’s conviction.
Eloirzazi was required to hand over the property to the City of Huntington as a condition of his plea agreement.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, “With this sentencing the book on the All-In-One store is closed. It is up to the community to write a new one.”
From some time prior to June 2010 and continuing until February 2012, Eloirzazi and co-defendants Stephanie Pauley, 35, and Cynthia Gibson, 40, all of Huntington, conspired together and with other known individuals in an illegal scheme to defraud the federal food benefits program. Federal food benefits cards are provided to qualifying low-income households for the purpose of feeding people who otherwise might go hungry. The benefits can only be used to buy food. Eloirzazi and his co-conspirators, however, cheated the program. Card-holders could walk into Eloirzazi’s store and swipe their cards for fake food purchases, pretending to buy food when in fact they were simply transferring money from their food benefits card to Eloirzazi’s account. In exchange, Eloirzazi would compensate them with cash or items like cigarettes or alcoholic beverages, usually offering only 50 to 65 cents for every dollar’s worth of food benefits a card-holder had paid him.
The Court ordered the defendant to pay restitution in the amount of $127,000 to the Department of Agriculture.
The investigation was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, the Huntington Police Department, the West Virginia State Police and the Department of Homeland Security. Assistant United States Attorney Erik Goes handled the prosecution. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers
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