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State Busts $1.5 Million Food-Stamp-for-Cash Ring

Contact: Rusty Hills or Matt Frendewey, Media Contacts 517-373-8060
Agency: Attorney General

February 12, 2008

            LANSING - Attorney General Mike Cox today announced charges against 27 people associated with eight stores in Detroit who are alleged to be involved in food stamp trafficking totaling more than $1.5 million.

            "This is a crime against taxpayers and those who are most vulnerable," said Cox. "The cost to taxpayers as a result of this fraudulent activity is staggering."

            The Michigan Department of Human Services, Office of Inspector General, conservatively estimates that about 4% of all food stamp transactions are fraudulent. There is $115 million spent with food stamps every month in Michigan. This means approximately $4.6 million in fraudulent transactions take place every month in Michigan (or $55.2 million per year). Wayne County alone accounts for slightly less than 1/3 of the food stamp transactions, which translates into an estimated food stamp fraud in Wayne County alone of around $16 million per year.

            "Let today's operation be a warning that this type of fraud will not be tolerated," said Col. Peter C. Munoz, Director of the Michigan State Police. "Working with our partners at the Michigan Department of Human Services, the Michigan Attorney General's Office, and the United States Department of Agriculture, we will ensure that food benefits are used to help those in need rather than to pad the pocketbooks of business owners."

            "This operation was a great example of teamwork, and I want to thank all of the various departments and agencies that made today's arrests possible," Cox said. "My office teamed up with the Michigan State Police, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Michigan Department of Human Services and together we will continue to fight this fraudulent activity."

            Throughout the duration of this investigation, investigators utilized confidential informants and/or police officers working in an undercover capacity to conduct fraudulent transactions where they would receive cash for food stamp benefits. During these undercover operations, the confidential informants and/or police officers were equipped with devices for recording video and/or audio footage of the fraudulent transactions with the store owners and/or employees. The defendants are charged with a felony violation of the food stamp act for which the maximum penalties are 10 years imprisonment and/or $250,000 in penalties. In addition, the stores and its owners and employees are charged with conducting a continuing criminal enterprise (punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and/or $100,000 and criminal forfeiture of proceeds), conspiracy (up to 5 years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine), electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card fraud (4 years imprisonment and/or $4,000 fine), and money laundering (10 year imprisonment and/or $100,000 in fines).

            A criminal charge is merely an accusation and all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

            The following lists the various defendants and the stores with which they are associated:

STORES

DEFENDANTS

Citgo

8351 Woodward Detroit, Michigan

Nabil Shamel, owner

Jamal Chami, employee

Waad Fawazi, employee

Livernois Gasoline

7645 Livernois Detroit, Michigan

Hafaid Musleh-Mohmood Alkahif, owner

Abdul Fattah-Mohmood Alkahif, employee

Dheyab M. Alquhaif, employee

Ammar Mahmood Gobah, employee

Mustafa Mohamen-Ahmed Alqohaif, employee

Yousef Mohamed-Ahmed Alqohaif, employee

U&I Petro

8820 Wyoming Detroit, Michigan

Saleh Algathaithi, owner

Saif Ahmed Alghathie, employee

Hassan Ali Hussein, employee

C&M Mini Mart

18420 James Couzens Detroit, Michigan

Abdo Mahfouz, owner

Ali Abdo Mahfouz, employee

Tarek Moshen Baderddine, employee

Rowan Party Store

7000 Rowan

Detroit, Michigan

Saeb Abdul-Ghani Abdul-Ghani, owner

Joseph Soliman Elrubi, employee

Maher Diab, employee

Big Al's Marathon

3910 Grand River Detroit, Michigan

Hussien Kamel Beydoun, owner

Ali Hussein Beydoun, employee

Van Dyke Petro

19030 Van Dyke Detroit, Michigan

Taha Ahmad Dika, owner

Nizar Ali Nazha, employee

Michael Maher, employee

Bassel Ibrahim-El-Sayed-Sleim Hachem, employee

Schaefer & Puritan 15901 Schaefer Detroit, Michigan

Mr. and Mrs. Adel Mohamad Kobeissi, owner

Khaled Abid Al-Bonijim, employee

Moahamad A. Berro, employee

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