Hamtramck Grocery Store Owner Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy And Engaging In Monetary Transaction In Criminally Derived Property
A Hamtramck grocery store owner pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Anthony Mohatt, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, Jarod J. Koopman, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue, Director, Michigan State Police.
Syed Ali, 42, owner of Modhubon Grocery, Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property. Ali entered the guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Leitman.
According to court records, from October 2010 through July 2012, Ali and an employee of Modhubon conspired to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Ali and Modhubon, an authorized food stamp program retailer, engaged in the fraudulent practice of redeeming benefits for cash and ineligible items from SNAP recipients at a discounted rate. Ali and his employee would then process the purchase of SNAP benefits through the Modhubon Grocery as purchases of eligible food items, obtaining the full dollar amount of the SNAP benefit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In December 2011, Ali cashed a check, drawn on the account of Modhubon Grocery in the amount of $12,000.00. Ali took the cash from the account knowing that it was derived from the proceeds of the theft of SNAP benefits.
As part of his plea agreement, Ali has agreed to pay restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the amount of $1,844,690.95.
“Food stamp fraud victimizes both the recipients of the benefits and the taxpayers that fund the program. We are pleased to collaborate with our law enforcement partners towards the common goal of combatting food stamp fraud”, said IRS Special Agent in Charge Koopman.
A sentencing hearing was set for June 25. The maximum penalty is ten years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.