Grocery store operator sentenced for illegally redeeming food stamps

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — A grocery store operator from Bridgeport was sentenced today for illegally redeeming food stamp benefits.

Khalid Aboutayeb served approximately three weeks of imprisonment. He will receive three months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. Aboutayeb was also ordered to pay $199,505 in restitution.

Aboutayeb operated the M&J Deli Market, a grocery and convenience store located at 988 State Street in Bridgeport.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (“SNAP”) is administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and utilizes federal tax dollars to subsidize low-income households to provide them with the opportunity to achieve a more nutritious diet by increasing their food-purchasing power. SNAP recipients purchase eligible food items at retail food stores through the use of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, and SNAP benefits may be accepted by authorized retailers only in exchange for eligible items. Items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, paper goods and soaps are not eligible for purchase with Food Stamp benefits, and it is a violation of the rules and regulations governing the food stamp program to allow benefits to be used to purchase ineligible items. SNAP benefits may not lawfully be exchanged for cash under any circumstances. The program is designed so that the total amount of each purchase is electronically transferred to the retailer’s designated bank account.

On Dec. 17, 2014, Aboutayeb pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful use of food stamp benefits. In pleading guilty, he admitted that he and others, including his sister, Jamilia Aboutayeb, unlawfully exchanged customers’ food stamp benefits for ineligible items and cash at the M&J Deli Market between approximately Dec. 2011 and Feb. 2013. The investigation revealed that more than $285,000 in illegal SNAP benefits were redeemed at the store.

On Jan. 8, 2015, Jamilia Aboutayeb pleaded guilty, admitting that she unlawfully exchanged customers’ food stamp benefits for ineligible items and cash at M&J Deli Market between approximately June 2013 and March 2014. On May 1, 2015, she was sentenced to five days of imprisonment, time already served, six months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $69,209.

 

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