Fairfield resident charged in connection with food stamp fraud

A brother and sister are accused of illegally using customers’ food stamp benefits by letting them purchase ineligible items as well as exchanging stamps for cash. They could face time behind bars of five years, or a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of the charges.

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Khalid Aboutayeb, 45, of Bridgeport, and his sister, Jamila Aboutayeb, 54, of Fairfield, were arrested Thursday on federal food stamp fraud charges.

On May 14, a grand jury in New Haven returned separate indictments charging the two with engaging in food stamp fraud at the M&J Deli Market, a grocery and convenience store they operated at 988 State Street in Bridgeport. According to reports, following their arrests, the Aboutayebs appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport. Both defendants are currently detained.

 

About SNAP

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.

 

Indictment allegations

The indictment against Khalid Aboutabyeb alleges that he unlawfully exchanged customers’ food stamp benefits for ineligible items and cash at M&J Deli Market between approximately December 2011 and February 2013.  The indictment against Jamila Aboutayeb alleges that she unlawfully exchanged food stamp benefits for ineligible items and cash at the store between approximately June 2013 and March 2014.

According to statements made in court, the investigation has revealed that approximately $285,000 in illegal SNAP benefits were redeemed at the store.

This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Felice M. Duffy.

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