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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          July 2, 2012                   

FORMER HUNTINGTON CONVENIENCE STORE MANAGER PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL FOOD STAMP FRAUD

Defendant defrauded nearly $300,000 as part of an illegal EBT card-swiping schem

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today that a former Huntington convenience store owner pleaded guilty to defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Ibrahim Osman Owayda, also known as “Abe,” 34, of Huntington, was a manager of Huntington Mart formerly located at 1117 Hal Greer Boulevard. 
Owayda admitted that in June 2010 and continuing until November 2011, he took SNAP benefits and in turn provided cash to the holder of the SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (“EBT”) card. Owayda further admitted that he gave only 50 to 65 cents on the dollar for the SNAP benefits and then pocketed the rest, reaping large profits from the transactions.

The defendant admitted that he redeemed a total of approximately $297,871 in SNAP benefits from the illegal scheme.

Owayda faces up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine when he is sentenced on October 1, 2012 by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers.  He will also owe restitution in the amount of $297,871.

In April, Stephanie Pauley, 35, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.  Pauley admitted that she conspired with other known individuals in an illegal EBT card-swiping scheme.

Pauley was an employee of the Huntington-area convenience store, ALLINONE ("ALLINONE") formerly known as the SONOCO store, located at 1954 9th Avenue.  Pauley admitted that as a result of the scheme, she redeemed a portion of approximately $127,000 in SNAP benefits.

Pauley faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on July 30, 2012.     

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 is in charge of the prosecution. 

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