2 Middle Eastern brothers that were accused of a huge welfare fraud strategy at a Portland grocery store in 2016 have been sentenced to federal prison.
41-year-old Ali Ratib Daham, of Westbrook, pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to defraud the United States government, money laundering and theft of government funds, he was sentenced to 3 years Monday.
And his brother, 23-year-old Abdulkareem Daham, was sentenced to two years after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. through a jury trial. Reports say the two brothers allegedly exchanged $1.4 million in national food benefits for cash.
Prosecutors afterward confirmed the brothers allowed customers to swap food assistance benefits for cash at a discounted rate from June 2011 during April 2016. That’s 5 years of fraud. A federal prosecutor called the strategy”among the largest, if not the largest, fraud cases between [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] gains in [Maine].”
This is more on this story via The New York Daily News:
“PORTLAND, Maine — Two brothers accused of a massive welfare fraud scheme in a Portland grocery shop have been sentenced to federal prison.
He was sentenced to 3 years on Monday.
A federal prosecutor called the case”one of the biggest, if not the biggest, fraud cases between (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) gains in (Maine),” that the Bangor Daily News reported.
Federal agents raided Ahram Halal Market at 2016 after being tipped from unusually substantial earnings at the market coming from food store. Prosecutors said the brothers had allowed customers to exchange food aid benefits for money at a discounted rate from June 2011 during April 2016.
The elderly brother might need to cough up $1.4 million in restitution, while the younger brother has been ordered to pay $955,000, the Bangor Daily News reported.”
The Dahams are Iraqi natives that fled the country from the mid-2000s during Iraqi Freedom and opened the Portland company in 2011. In a statement that the older brother said that he broke the law in order to help Portland’s immigrant community, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Chapman argued that the welfare-for-cash fraud outnumber those immigrants by”providing ammunition to those who’d seek to restrict welfare benefits.”
The brothers were also ordered to pay restitution and sentenced to supervised release following their prison terms.
That is just sick. Even though most large-scale welfare fraud cases appear to involve middle eastern men these days, these two brothers’ case is worse. They commit food stamp fraud so as to enrich themselves and then they say they did it to help the community? Seems like an argument a drug dealer might make concerning why he sells illegal drugs on the road.
Here is more information on another instance of Food Stamp fraud through Angry Patriot:
“A huge welfare fraud strategy was discovered and finally sent 14 people to jail. The criminals who drank out of Americans taxpayers all have one very significant thing in common!
The Baltimore region retail shop operators charged with welfare fraud all have Middle Eastern names! The fraud indictment says the retail store operators received more than $16 million in national (i.e. taxpayer financed ) reimbursements for food that they did not actually sell to the bad, CBS reports.
Welfare fraud, generally referred to as”food stamp trafficking,” cheats All of the People out of our hard-earned cash. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service must approve each of the merchants that offer the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
In Maryland, bad citizens are supplied a digital”advantage” transfer card, or EBT card, to purchase groceries. The card acts like a debit card and can be scanned in an approved shop’s checkout.
Retailers who participate in the food stamp program deduct the cash value of the purchase in the consumers’ SNAP balance. The USDA subsequently pays retailers to the bought food after sending a bill to the federal authorities.
The Baltimore welfare fraud defendants are accused of exchanging EBT benefits for money. The store provides the welfare recipient cash rather than food with enough leftover for your store to also turn a profit. Such schemes are thought to happen in countries across the country. The food stamp recipients who take part in these schemes will also be committing an illegal action and defrauding the American people who pay for their food.
“USDA has a zero tolerance policy on fraud, and we continue to strengthen our anti-fraud approaches to identify and exclude bad actors.
More than any other variable, we are aware that the change in the trafficking speed has been driven by the growth in the amount of smaller retailers in which trafficking happens at ten times the speed of larger grocery shops and supermarkets,” explained Kevin Concannon, Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, as per USDA.
In an effort to avoid getting captured, the suspects with Middle Eastern names that own the stores had the welfare recipients’ debit money from the cards in a set of transactions over days or weeks, the Department of Justice explained.
Some of those shop operators allegedly sold food at substantially reduced prices and then split the federal reimbursement money with all the food stamp participants.
“The food stamp program is meant to place food on the tables of needy recipients, not to place money in the pockets of greedy criminals,” stated United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
“Honest shop owners work hard to make a profit by really selling food, and food producers and vendors also benefit. Individuals who play by the rules deserve to understand that criminals who defraud them will probably be held accountable.”
The welfare fraud defendants face up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraudup to five years behind bars for conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and wire fraud, and a max of five years in prison for fraud.”