Store Owners in Kansas City, Kan., Plead Guilty To Theft from Food Stamp Program
KANSAS CITY, KAN. - The owners of a store in Kansas City, Kan., have pleaded guilty to defrauding a federal food stamp program, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. The fraud totaled more than $227,000.
Saima Sajjad, 39, Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud. Her husband, Sajjad S. Chaudhry, 47, Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty June 16 to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
In their pleas, they admitted the crimes occurred while they owned the KC Gas Mart at 2850 State Avenue in Kansas City, Kan. The store participated in a federal food stamp program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The store came under investigation in the summer of 2013 because it reported engaging in thousands of dollars of SNAP benefits transaction, many of which were large purchases. Undercover investigators working with the USDA exchanged SNAP benefits for cash at KC Gas Mart, receiving approximately 50 percent of the value of the SNAP benefits. The rules of the program prohibit approved vendors from trading cash for food stamps, accepting food stamps for ineligible items and accepting food stamps from people who are not authorized to use them.
In addition, Chaudhry admitted he used another person’s electronic benefits card to purchase food items at a Sam’s Club store in Kansas City, Kan.
The defendants are set for sentencing Aug. 25. They face the following penalties:
Conspiracy to defraud USDA: a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Aggravated identity theft: A mandatory two years to be served consecutively.
Grissom commended the USDA-OIG and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic for their work on the case.