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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Oct. 3, 2012                   

FORMER HUNTINGTON CONVENIENCE STORE MANAGER SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR FOOD STAMP FRAUD

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

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that a Huntington convenience store manager was sentenced this week (Oct. 1st) to one year and one day in federal prison for defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Ibrahim Osman Owayda, also known as “Abe,” 34, previously pleaded guilty in July.  Owayda 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.

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.  The Court also ordered Owayda to pay restitution in the amount of $297,871. 

Last month, former Huntington convenience store owner Abderahamane Eloirzazi, also known as “Abe,” 34, of Huntington pleaded guilty in a similar scheme to defraud the federal Food Stamp Program. Eloirzazi was the owner and operator of the All-In-One convenience store on 9th Avenue in Huntington. The store, once a magnet for crime in Huntington’s Fairfield neighborhood, has been closed down permanently as a result of the prosecution. As part of his plea agreement, Eloirzazi has surrendered the property to the City of Huntington.

Eloirzazi faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on December 10, 2012 by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers. 

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