Although this has nothing to do with refugees, it has lots to do with where we live, near Hagerstown in Washington County, MD. And, I am bringing this to you as a reminder to be on the lookout for similar activity in your communities. It will be sharp eyes and the willingness of regular people to to speak up that will make all the difference in helping to protect our American cities and towns.
What follows is information provided by the Hagerstown Police Department:
Hagerstown Police Department
50 N. Burhans Blvd
Hagerstown Maryland 21740
Incident: Search and Seizure Warrant Executed
Location: Nadia’s Convenience Store @ 200 W. Franklin St Hagerstown Md
Date & Time: Thursday December 6, 2007 at 1:00 PM
On Thursday December 6, 2007 detectives with the Hagerstown Police Department and agents with The US Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General executed a Federal Search and Seizure Warrant at Nadia’s Convenience Store at 200 W. Franklin St. The warrant was a result of a year and a half long investigation into illegal electronic food stamp transactions being done by the store. During the investigations transactions were made for cash in exchange for food stamp benefits. No one was arrested at this time. Agents with the Inspector Generals Office seized evidence from the store which will be reviewed by them. The case will then be presented to the US Attorney for possible charges. Nadi’s Convenience Store is owned by Mohammed Tariq Khan, who was present during the execution of the warrant.Supervisor: Sgt. Jim Robison.
It is unclear whether Mr. Mohammed Tariq Khan is a US citizen or when he might have immigrated to America. There has also been no suggestion that any money has left the country.
Apparently the nearly $30 billion a year Federal Food Stamp Program is fraught with problems especially as it relates to small grocery stores. This 2006 story in USA Today will give you more information on what to look for with this scam at small grocery and convenience stores. Here is one of the criminal cases cited by USA Today:
Criminal penalties for individuals convicted of food stamp fraud are more severe. A Dearborn, Mich., man pleaded guilty last month to committing more than $380,000 in food stamp fraud over 20 months. Wissam Salameh, 32, manager of a BP gas station and convenience store in Detroit, was convicted of trading cash for food stamp benefits. Salameh, who will be sentenced in February, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
One of the methods that criminals can use to steal from the Federal government goes something like this: The store might purchase food stamps from someone at half their value and then seek reimbursement for the whole value from the Dept. of Agriculture. As of this time, we do not know what the nature of the possible crime was that prompted the removal of many boxes of material from the store yesterday.