A federal grand jury indicted nine retail store owners in Baltimore City and Baltimore County for ‘food stamp trafficking.’
Court papers said the retailers redeemed the food stamps for cash and split the money with food stamp recipients. The amounts totaled about $7 million. According to investigators, the retailers did not provide any food.
“Taxpayers fund the food stamp program to put food on the tables of needy recipients, not to put money in the pockets of greedy criminals,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Food producers and distributors benefit when food stamp funds are used to buy food, and honest storeowners work hard to earn a profit by actually selling food. People who play by the rules deserve to know that criminals who defraud them will be held accountable.”
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as the Food Stamp Program, is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), together with state agencies. The program funds low-income individuals to allow them to obtain a more nutritious diet. In Maryland, the program provides eligible individuals with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card called the Independence Card, which operates like a debit card. Recipients obtain EBT cards through the state Department of Human Resources, then use the EBT card to purchase approved food items from participating retailers.
Those indicted are:
Abdullah Aljaradi, age 51, of Baltimore; Second Obama Express and D&M Deli and Grocery, 901 Harlem Avenue, Suite A and B, respectively. From October 2010 through July 2013, Aljaradi allegedly obtained more than $2 million in payments for food sales that never occurred.
Dae Cho, age 66; and Hyung Cho, age 40, both of Catonsville;
K&S Food Market, 3910 W. Belvedere Avenue. From November 2010 through July 2013, Dae Cho and her son, Hyung Cho, allegedly obtained more than $1.4 million in in payments for food sales that never occurred.
Abdo Mohamed Nagi, age 54, of Baltimore; New York Deli and Grocery 1207 West Baltimore Street. From February 2011 through May 2013, Nagi allegedly obtained more than $1.2 million in payments for food sales that never occurred.
Kim Man Chu, age 38, of Rosedale, Maryland; Long Hing Grocery Store, 1131 Greenmount Avenue. From October 2010 through July 2013, Chu allegedly obtained more than $750,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
Amara Cisse, age 50, and Fanta Keita, age 45, both of Windsor Mill, Maryland; Simbo Food Mart, 2103 West Pratt Street. From November 2010 through May 2013, Cisse, and his wife Keita, allegedly obtained more than $600,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
Jung Kim, age 51, of Ellicott City, Maryland; C&C Market, 4752 Park Heights Avenue. From November 2010 through April 2013, Kim allegedly obtained more than $600,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
John Cunningham, age 54, of Baltimore; Cunningham’s Amoco, 4419 Park Heights Avenue. From December 2012 through July 2013, Cunningham allegedly obtained more than $348,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
If convicted, those indicted face a maximum of 20 years in prison.