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News Maryland Baltimore City

Convenience store operator sentenced to prison for food stamp fraud

A 58-year-old Yemeni man living in Baltimore was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison for wire fraud in a $1.5 million illegal food stamp scheme, federal prosecutors announced.

Ahmed Ayedh Al-Jabrati was convicted of trading cash for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at his two convenience stores, Second Obama Express and D&M Deli and Grocery, in the 900 block of Harlem Ave.

The SNAP program allows eligible people to use an electronic benefit transfer card similar to a debit card for approved food items from participating retailers. Rather than selling them the items, court documents and plea agreements say, Al-Jabrati gave them cash — in many cases around half what the purchases were worth. Despite knowing it was a violation of SNAP regulations, Al-Jabrati accepted $1.5 million in food stamp payments for sales that never happened from October 2010 to July 2013, prosecutors said.

Al-Jabrati has been ordered to pay restitution of $1.2 million.

Eight of the 10 Maryland convenience store owners and operators indicted in September 2013 for illegally redeeming food stamp benefits in exchange for cash have pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud or wire fraud, prosecutors said. Another two were indicted in January.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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