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Two grocery store operators charged in food stamp fraud case

Federal authorities charged two Baltimore grocery store operators Friday with exchanging food stamp benefits for cash, continuing a campaign against a practice prosecutors say hurts honest retailers.

Abdulmalik Abdulla, 37, and Ahmed Mohssen, 53, who run Sam's New York Grocery in the 200 block of N. Milton Ave., are accused of defrauding the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program of $1.5 million between August 2011 and last November.

"Retailers who trade food stamp credits for cash are on notice that federal authorities are on their trail," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement. "Taxpayers fund the program to provide food for needy recipients, not to turn retail store cash registers into ATM machines."

The scams typically involve a retailer exchanging half the value of a supposed food stamp purchase for cash. In the Sam's case, investigators used an informant who traded $100 in benefits for $50 in cash one day last summer and $86 in benefits for $42 cash another time, according to court documents.

Abdulla and Mohssen could not be reached for comment.

The charges follow a series of other cases brought last September targeting 10 business owners, four of whom have pleaded guilty.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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