Waterbury grocery store worker sentenced in Food Stamp fraud

HARTFORD, Conn. – A Waterbury man was sentenced Thursday in Hartford to 30 months in prison for defrauding the federal food stamp program.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (“SNAP”) is administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and uses federal tax dollars to help low-income families pay for more nutritious and essential food. Items such as alcohol, cigarettes, paper goods, and soaps are not eligible for purchase with Food Stamps. It is a violation of the rules to allow benefits of Food Stamps to be used to purchase ineligible items.

Tallat Mahmood, 64, who worked at WB Trade Fair Grocery, located at 43 Willow Street in Waterbury, illegally allowed customers to redeem their food stamp benefits for cash and other ineligible items. It is estimated that WB Trade Fair Grocery could
lawfully redeem at most between $120,000 to $240,000 per year with Food Stamps. However during an approximate 18-month period, food stamp redemption at the store totaled approximately $3.2 million.

Judge Bryant ordered Mahmood to pay approximately $1.5 million to the state.

On April 7 of this year, Raul Carlos Monarca-Gonzalez, also an employee at WB Trade Fair Grocery, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to also pay $1.5 million for his role in this scheme.

A third employee of the store who was also involved in this scheme, Tahir Shahzad, has also plead guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31.

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