Manager of Express Lane Market Sentenced on Federal Charges Involving Food Stamp Fraud
St. Louis, MO – Ayman Barghouty, 55, of Maryland Heights, was sentenced to 13 months in prison on charges of conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud. SNAP was formerly known as the food stamp program.
According to court documents, the Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division (FSD) issues Electronic Benefits Transfer Cards (EBT) for SNAP Authorized grocery retailers can only accept and redeem SNAP benefits for the sale of eligible food items. They are not permitted to exchange or redeem SNAP benefits for cash or other ineligible items such as household goods, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, cellular telephones or other non-food items.
Ayman Barghouty managed the Express Lane Market located at 3846 Keokuk, St. Louis, MO. He employed and trained employees Steven Holman and Timothy Zollner on the SNAP rules.
On March 28, 2012, Express Lane was permanently disqualified from the SNAP by the U.S.D.A. and prohibited from accepting EBT cards or SNAP benefits for payment. To continue to obtain money from the SNAP program, Barghouty, Holman and Zollner agreed to engage in a scheme to purchase food with other individuals’ EBT cards at local stores and place that food in Express Lane for sale in spite of being barred by the USDA from participating in SNAP. They engaged in this scheme from approximately March 2010 to November 2015 and purchased approximately $145,107.75 of food for resale in Express Lane
Barghouty pled guilty in August to conspiracy to commit SNAP fraud. He appeared yesterday before United States District Judge Catherin D. Perry.
Zollner pled guilty in September and was sentenced to 5 years’ probation and Holman will be sentenced in December.
This case was investigated by the Missouri Department of Social Services, United States Department of Agriculture, and Department of Homeland Security. Assistant United States Attorneys Anthony L. Franks and Gwen Carroll handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.