Philadelphia Store Owners Charged With Defrauding Government Food Assistance Program
PHILADELPHIA - Farhan Ali Abu Siam, 42, and Mohammed Abuawada, 26, both of Philadelphia, were charged yesterday by indictment in a conspiracy to defraud a government assistance program, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the federal Food Stamp program.
Abu Siam and Abuawada owned and operated S&S Farmer’s Market, a retail grocery store, now defunct, that was located at 2722 Germantown Avenue, in Philadelphia. According to the indictment, the defendants trafficked SNAP benefits by purchasing those benefits from customers of S&S Farmer’s Market in exchange for cash, which is illegal. It is further alleged that from June 2012 until March 2013, as a result of their trafficking activities, the defendants sought and received redemption of more than $1 million in SNAP benefits from USDA.
If convicted, each defendant faces a substantial period of incarceration, restitution to the government, three years of supervised release and possible fines.
The case was investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcemen Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary E. Crawley.
An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.