WSAZ - Local News and Breaking News Coverage for West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky

UPDATE: Huntington Fire Dept. Looking at 20th Street Site for New Station

By: WSAZ News Staff; Andrew Colegrove; Bill Murray Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; Andrew Colegrove; Bill Murray Email

UPDATE 4/23/13 @ 6 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Huntington is helping pave the way for a new fire station on the city's Southside.

Huntington City Council has approved an ordinance, allowing the city to remove gas tanks from the property of the old "All-in-One" store, formerly the Sunoco Station, at the corner of 20th Street and 9th Avenue.

"This is considered on of the blighted areas," Huntington Fire Chief Carl Eastham said. "It also helps being able to get more grants. In larger cities that have been able to do this, it helps rejuvenate neighborhoods where they put fire stations or police precincts in that area."

The cost of the project is estimated at roughly $2 million and could take at least two years to become a reality.

Rhonda Felder has a 4-year-old son. She says the fire department presence down the street will not just be of firemen and women; it will be a uniformed role model for neighborhood children.

"Some of these kids don't have dads, or their dads are in jail, just don't have a job, didn't finish school," Felder said. "We need these role models that say, 'You can make it as a young man, as a teenager.' "

The old gas station was torn down in December of 2012. It was labeled a magnet for violence, drugs and crime. Police responded to nearly 600 calls there since 2008.

"Oh, it's much better here," said Regina Felder, who's lived along the block for 16 years. "Now that the building's gone, it's so quiet here. The drug activity isn't around, so children here can be children. They're not stuck inside our homes."



UPDATE 1/7/13 @ 5:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The owner of a gas station that was a hub for crime is headed to prison.

Abe Eloirzazi was sentenced in Federal Court Monday to six months in prison, six months home confinement, three years supervised release and he has to pay restitution.

Eloirzazi owned the All-In-One gas station on 20th Street in the Fairfield community. He pleaded guilty in September 2012 to conspiracy to commit fraud in federal court.

Eloirzazi, along with two others, admitted that he would swipe the Mountain State Cards of customers by charging a certain dollar amount against the value of the card. He admitted that the card holders were given 50 to 65 cents on the dollar in cash. The All-In-One bank account then received the full amount of the fraudulent transactions from the government. All three would also sell cigarettes and beer on the card, which is also against state regulations.

As part of Eloirzazi's plea deal, he turned over the deed to his gas station and it has since been torn down.

Back in May 2012, the City took legal action to have the property declared a public nuisance. Huntington detectives say since 2008, officers responded to about 600 calls at that location.



UPDATE 12/5/12 @ 4 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A convenience store riddled with problems that was shut down for being a public nuisance has now been demolished.

The former ALLINONE store at 20th Street and 9th Avenue was torn down Wednesday afternoon.

This follows more than 50 vacant houses recently being demolished in Huntington, many of which were in the Fairfield community.

"Those were 54 nests of criminal activity,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. “Behind me, this was the hive. This was the epicenter for criminal activity."

Police say the store was a magnet for drugs and violence. It was shut down earlier this year when a federal investigation into food stamp fraud led to three arrests.

"This is kind of a symbolic conclusion to a pretty long journey," Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.

Mayor-elect Steve Williams says the city hopes to form a plan with what'll happen with the now-vacant property in 90 days.

Williams says the planning will also involve other changes in the area, with public housing on Hal Greer scheduled to be torn down and residents there relocated.

"We have to make sure we don't sit on this forever,” Williams said. “If we come out in 90 days with a plan, we think we’ll give residents something to look forward to and make sure it all fits together."



UPDATE 12/5/12 @ 10:20 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A convenience store riddled with problems that was shut down for being a public nuisance is now set to be demolished.

The former All-in-One store on 20th Street and 9th Ave. is scheduled to be demolished Wednesday afternoon.

Back in May, the City took legal action to have the property declared a public nuisance. Huntington detectives say since 2008, officers responded to about 600 calls at that location.

In April, Huntington City Council unanimously passed a resolution designating the property a public nuisance, which kept the owner from reopening the store.

Owner and operator Abe Eloirzazi, manager Stephanie Pauley and clerk Cynthia Gibson, have all pleaded guilty in connection with a federal investigation into food stamp fraud. All three admitted to exchanging money for food stamp cards -- exchanging about $.50 on the dollar.

The location has long been a hotbed for crime in Huntington's Fairfield community.

Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook will speak before the building is demolished.

The tear down is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 9/17/12 @ 5 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former manager at the All-in-One store in Huntington will spend time behind bars in connection with a food stamp cashing scheme.

According to a release from the U.S. District Attorney, Stephanie Pauley was sentenced to three months in jail and six months of home confinement. Pauley pleaded guilty back in April in Federal Court to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.

Pauley admitted that she defrauded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of about $127,000.

According to the release, for three years Pauley said she gave customers cash back from their purchases -- and let them buy cigarettes and beer with their cards.

Pauley has also been ordered to pay $127,000 in restitution, according to the release.

Owner and operator Abe Eloirzazi pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to commit fraud in federal court. It's a deal that includes turning over the deed to the property to the city of Huntington.

Cynthia Gibson, 40, of Huntington, was a clerk at the Huntington-area convenience store, also pleaded guilty conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud earlier this year.

All three admitted that they would swipe the Mountain State Cards of customers by charging a certain dollar amount against the value of the card. They admitted that the card holders were given 50 to 65 cents on the dollar in cash. The All-In-One bank account then received the full amount of the fraudulent transactions from the government. All three would also sell cigarettes and beer on the card, which is also against state regulations.



UPDATE 9/10/12 @ 6:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Cashing in food stamp benefits for profit became a federal case that led to the closing of a longtime Huntington hotbed for crime.

On Monday, the owner of a one-time convenience store admitted to his role in breaking the law and has agreed to a plea deal that will allow the city to reclaim that corner from crime.

“It's a true community impact case. I think we'll see long-lasting effects from this investigation,” Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.

An undercover investigation between Huntington Police and the USDA resulted in the arrest and federal indictment of four people for conspiracy to commit fraud. One of those people was Abe Eloirzazi, the owner and operator of the ‘All in One’ convenience store, formally known as the Sunoco.

Located at the corner of 9th Avenue and 20th Street, the location has long been a hotbed for crime in Huntington's Fairfield community.

“When I first heard they were diverting stamp benefits for cash, my ears perked up and we started thinking out of the box a little bit,” Holbrook said.

Eloirzazi pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit fraud in federal court. It's a deal that includes turning over the deed to the property to the city of Huntington.

“Hopefully it will turn into a very positive aspect for the city,” defense attorney Troy Giatras said.

Scott McClure, attorney for the city of Huntington, said City Council and Mayor Kim Wolfe's office will decide on something for the "betterment of the community" when the city has possession of the deed.

Regarding the federal criminal case, Eloirzazi's attorney says he did not spearhead this conspiracy, but was drawn into it after the fact.

“He certainly, at some point in time, knew it was occurring, as he told the judge today," Giatras said. "He knew it and didn't stop it and participated in it. Therefore, you are a part of it.”

Investigators say over the course of several years up until February 2012, Eloirzazi and store employees swiped food stamp cards -- giving the recipients 50 to 65 cents on the dollar while banking the rest. The store pocketed more than $125,000 in that time.

“I couldn't be happier with the work of our detectives and the cooperation of the U.S. Attorney's Office,” Holbrook said.

Eloirzazi will be sentenced in December where he could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but pay a portion of $127,000 in restitution for the food stamp benefits defrauded.



UPDATE 9/10/12 @ 3:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The owner and operator of the All-in-One convenience store in Huntington has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.

Abe Eloirzazi, 44, accepted the plea deal in federal court Monday afternoon admitting he participated with other known individuals in a scheme to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

These benefits are given to eligible individuals in the form of a debit card called the Mountain State Card at the All-In-One Store ("All-In-One"), formerly known as the Sunoco store, located at 1954 9th Ave.

Eloirzazi admitted that beginning in June 2011 until February 2012, he conspired with other known individuals in an illegal card-swiping scheme that took place at All-In-One.

“The All-In-One store wasn’t just a crooked business, it was a dangerous blight on this city,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. “As I said when we started this prosecution in February, eliminating a criminal stronghold like this store can fundamentally change the character of a neighborhood. By closing it down forever and putting it in city hands, we’ve taken a step toward an even safer Huntington and a brighter future for Fairfield.”

He fraudulently swiped certain recipients' Mountain State Cards by charging a certain dollar amount against the value of the recipient's card. Eloirzazi admitted that the card recipients were given 50 to 65 cents on the dollar in cash. The All-In-One bank account then received the full amount of the fraudulent transactions from the government. Eloirzazi admitted that as a result of the scheme, he redeemed a portion of approximately $127,000 in SNAP benefits.

Eloirzazi faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Also, he will turn over the deed for the property to the city of Huntington. He will be sentenced December 10, 2012.

"It is certainly his hope that the city will take that property and make the neighborhood a better place," said Troy Giatras, Eloirzazi's attorney.

In April, Stephanie Pauley, 35, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud in connection with the illegal conspiracy.

In July, Cynthia Gibson, of Huntington, who was a clerk at the All in One also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Also in July, former Huntington Mart manager Ibrahim Osman Owayda, also known as “Abe,” 34, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to charges in a similar food stamp fraud scheme. Owayda faces up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine when he is sentenced on Oct. 1, 2012.



UPDATE 7/16/12 @ 2:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Huntington woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.

Cynthia Gibson, 40, of Huntington, admitted that she participated with other known individuals in a scheme to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

These benefits are given to eligible individuals in the form of a debit card called the Mountain State Card.

Gibson was a clerk at the Huntington-area convenience store, All-In-One Store ("All-In-One"), formerly known as the Sunoco store, located at 1954 9th Ave.

Gibson admitted that beginning in June 2011 until February 2012, she conspired with other known individuals in an illegal card-swiping scheme that took place at All-In-One.

She fraudulently swiped certain recipients' Mountain State Cards by charging a certain dollar amount against the value of the recipient's card. Gibson admitted that the card recipients were given 50 to 65 cents on the dollar in cash. The All-In-One bank account then received the full amount of the fraudulent transactions from the government. Gibson admitted that as a result of the scheme, she redeemed a portion of approximately $127,000 in SNAP benefits.

Gibson faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on Oct. 15, 2012.

In April, Stephanie Pauley, 35, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud in connection with the illegal conspiracy. Pauley faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on July 30, 2012.

Earlier this month, former Huntington Mart manager Ibrahim Osman Owayda, also known as “Abe,” 34, of Huntington, pleaded guilty to charges in a similar food stamp fraud scheme. Owayda faces up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine when he is sentenced on Oct. 1, 2012.



UPDATE 6/2/12 @ 4:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former Huntington store manager has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

Ibrahim Osman Owayda, also known as “Abe,” 34, of Huntington, was a manager of Huntington Mart formerly located at 1117 Hal Greer Boulevard.

Owayda admitted that in June 2010 and until November 2011, he took SNAP benefits and in turn provided cash to customers of the SNAP card. Owayda further admitted that he gave only 50 to 65 cents on the dollar for the SNAP benefits and then pocketed the rest -- reaping large profits from the transactions.

Owayda admitted that he redeemed a total of approximately $297,871 in SNAP benefits from the illegal scheme.

Owayda faces up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine when he is sentenced on October 1. He will also owe restitution in the amount of $297,871.

The store was shut down after being deemed a public nuisance by the City of Huntington.



UPDATE 5/3/12 @ 2:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Barriers surrounding a closed convenience store will come down with in a week, but the current owner will still not be allowed to reopen the store.

During a hearing Thursday in Cabell County Circuit Court, Judge Paul Farrell dismissed a temporary restraining order requested by the City of Huntington that originally closed the ALLINONE Store on 20th Street and 9th Avenue.

The store’s owner, “Abe.” Eloirzazi, 44, of Huntington, is under federal investigation for alleged food stamp fraud.

Agents raided the stored back in February and the store was immediately boarded up and fenced off by the City who took legal action to have the property declared a public nuisance.

Huntington detectives say since 2008, officers responded to about 600 calls at that location.

Late last month, Huntington City Council unanimously passed a resolution designating the property a public nuisance and keeps Eloirzazi from reopening the store.

While the city doesn’t have the authority to take the property from the owner, the property could be seized as part of the ongoing investigation by federal authorities.



UPDATE 4/23/12 @ 10 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Neighbors applauded the city of Huntington’s action to make sure a store that's been deemed a public nuisance remains closed.

Tonia Page has 11 grandchildren. She says since the former Sunoco on 20th Street and 9th Avenue, most recently known as the ALLINONE, was boarded up in February, she's already noticed a positive difference in the neighborhood.

“They couldn't play ball in the back yard because you didn't know who was coming up and down the alley,” Page said. “This is a great step forward for our community.”

Monday night Huntington City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution designating the property as a public nuisance.

"Everybody is in agreement the establishment was certainly a nuisance," council member Sandra Clements said.

Clements lives close to the establishment and saw the problems escalate firsthand.

"It produced nothing productive for the community, and it has to go," Clements said.

Nobody representing the store was at Monday night’s meeting.

City attorney Scott McClure says the city doesn't have the authority to take the property from the owner.

That property may be seized as part of the ongoing investigation by federal authorities.

The store was shut down as part of a federal investigation into food stamp fraud.

The owner and two employees have been indicted.

Huntington detectives say since 2008, officers responded to about 600 calls at that location.



UPDATE 4/18/12 @ 11 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The former manager of a Huntington convenience store has admitted participating in an illegal scheme to cash federal food stamps.

Stephanie Pauley pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. She's scheduled to be sentenced July 30.

Prosecutors say Pauley and two co-defendants illegally redeemed about $127,000 worth of food stamp benefits at the convenience store between June 2010 and January 2012.

The store's owner, Abderahamane Eloirzazi, and another employee, Cynthia Gibson, are awaiting trial.



UPDATE 3/15/12 @ 5:45pm.
HUNTINGTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- It's been a source of crime and blight for years in Huntington's Fairfield neighborhood until it was shut down last month.

But, the owner of the ALLINONE Store, formerly the Sunoco station at the corner of 20th Street and Ninth Avenue, wants to re-open.
This news comes just as the city of Huntington starts proceedings to have it permanently shut down and torn down.

“It's been a lot quieter over there,” Barbara Scragg said.

Barbara is breathing a little easier these days. She manages Artistic Cleaners right next door to the former Sunoco station, most recently known as the ALLINONE Store.

Police shut it down last month after a federal raid and investigation into food stamp fraud. She remembers the constant traffic, activity and police calls to the area when the store was open.

“Of course, they never bothered us," Scragg said. "They kept their business over there and we kept ours over here.” .

But, even though this store is boarded up and fenced off doesn't mean it's going to stay that way.

“We're also looking to present with the court an alternative issue of management and continuation of service of the business in the manner consistent with the court's concerns, the city's concerns,” Troy Giatras, store owners attorney said.

In a hearing in Cabell County court this morning to discuss extending the current temporary restraining order on the business, the attorney for the store owner, Abe Eloirzazi, made it known he'd like to re-open the store.

“Mr. Eloirzazi certainly looks forward to working with the city to continue to be a productive member of the community, to pay taxes and to support the community in the process so he can have his business and the city can do its business,” Giatras said.

“It was news to me this morning,” Scott McClure, Huntington City Attorney said.

The city just started proceedings to shut down the property permanently calling it a public nuisance.

“It's not any news to anyone the blight it's been on the community, the 911 calls and calls for service there are extensive,” McClure said.

911 reports showed more than 30 calls in the last year for disturbances, drugs and burglary. Just one disturbance call has been made since the store closed last month. But, Giatras said the criminal activity that was going on around his client's business wasn't his fault.

“If you're a business owner, why would you want to have criminal activity? Particularly if you're a taxpayer and a business owner--that's not your goal to have criminal activity that hurts your business," said Giatras said. "How do you know he wasn’t the one making the calls to prevent crime or as crime was starting up.”

“If he opens as he had it, I wouldn't like that. If it opened as something else, that would be good,” Scragg said.

For the time being, folks on both sides hold their breath to see how this one plays out.

Eloirzazi is currently facing federal charges that he committed food stamp fraud out of the store. He's out of jail on home confinement.



UPDATE 3/15/12 @ 1:50 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A convenience store that was closed in connection with a federal investigation into alleged food stamp fraud, will remain closed for now, but the owner says he would eventually like to resume business.

That was the word Thursday as part of a hearing in Cabell County Circuit Court.

Abderahamane Eloirzazi, also known as “Abe.”  Eloirzazi, 44, of Huntington, is owner of the ALLINONE Store at the corner of 9th Avenue and 20th Street.

During the hearing, Judge Paul Farrell continued the temporary restraining order on the store, but granted Eloirzazi limited access to the building to take inventory of the items inside. But, he will need to come to an agreement with the city if he wants to remove anything.

“My client has maintained the business for several years and would like to continue to be a contributing citizen in Huntington,” said Troy Giatras, Eloirzazi’s attorney.

But, Eloirzazi still faces federal charges in connection with alleged food stamp fraud federal agents say was taking place out of the ALLINONE Store.

As part of a raid by local and federal law enforcement in early February, the City of Huntington took legal action to close the businesses as part of its nuisance law.

Eloirzazi is on home confinement on the federal charges.



UPDATE 2/17/12 @ 11:40 a.m.
HUNTINGTON,W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Huntington's Police Chief was in court Friday taking the next step to insure a Huntington business considered a public nuisance never opens it's doors again.

The ALLINONE station located at 20th Street and 9th Avenue in Huntington is closed down, boarded up and fenced off following raid by local and federal law enforcement last week.

As part of the raid, the City of Huntington took legal action to close the businesses part of its nuisance law.

During the hearing Friday morning, Judge Paul Farrell extended the restraining order another 10 days. The case will be back in court on February 29.

Police Chief Skip Holbrook hopes this prohibits these particular business owners from ever doing business at this location again.

“They clearly have established that they are not responsible business owners, they participate in criminal activity and I hope they would be held accountable for their criminal actions,” said Holbrook.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 2/10/12 @ 7:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A story involving four people indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly handing out cash for food stamps and pocketing some of the money continues to unfold.

The indictments were unsealed Thursday.

The owner of the ALLINONE, formerly the Sunoco along 9th Avenue and 20th Street in Huntington, along with two coworkers and the manager of the Huntington Mart along Hal Greer Boulevard all have been arrested for the scheme.

It's an investigation eight months in the making.

“We were dealing with the symptom and not really the disease,” Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.

But Huntington Police, along with state and federal agencies, have finally rooted out the disease in at least temporarily shutting down the ALLINONE location.

It has been officially labeled a public nuisance, not for years of criminal activity outside the store, but the new claims about what was going on inside.

“I don't know what the future holds for that, but I do know the activity that's been there and the conduct of owners and managers that have been there, we're not going to stand for it anymore,” Holbrook said.

Its latest management, Abe Eloirzazi and his wife, Stephanie Pauley, were in federal court Friday -- indicted on conspiracy and fraud charges. Police say they were running a food stamp scheme right out of the store, pocketing more than $100,000 since June 2010.

“They were charging the full price for the product, yet giving the holder of the card 50 to 65 cents on the dollar,” Holbrook said.

It's a big turn from the couple's claim to us in 2009 when we talked with them about the high-crime rate on their property.

“We’ve asked police to come,” Pauley said.

Another store in town is also under fire. The manager of the Huntington Mart in the 1100 block of Hal Greer also was indicted in the food stamp scheme, allegedly redeeming nearly $300,000 in benefits.

Holbrook says joint efforts made all the difference.

“We're also seeing unprecedented cooperation from the U.S. Attorney's office and the help we're getting from them is unlike anything I've seen in 24 years,” Holbrook said.

A fourth person who worked at ALLINONE also was indicted. All four will be arraigned in federal court next Wednesday.

Police say the ALLINONE was also a cover for selling stolen property, illegal synthetic drugs and illegal cigarettes.



UPDATE 2/9/12 @ 5:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The former Sunoco on 20th Street in Huntington has been closed and several people are facing charges in connection with a food stamp cashing scheme.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced Thursday that two federal indictments have been unsealed after the arrest of four individuals involved in schemes to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, “SNAP”, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney, the indictments allege, among other things, that the defendants would take the SNAP benefits and in turn provide cash to the holder of the SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer “EBT” card. Defendants are alleged to have given only 50 to 65 cents on the dollar for the SNAP benefits and then pocketed the rest, reaping large profits from the transactions.

“The character of any neighborhood, good or bad, depends on a handful of sustaining institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. “In good neighborhoods, they’re schools or churches. In bad neighborhoods, they’re exactly the opposite: places where criminals of all stripes gather to do business and rub shoulders. Take away those strongholds and you fundamentally alter the neighborhood.”

“Today’s actions,” Goodwin continued, “reiterate our commitment to fundamentally alter Fairfield. It’s a promise I made when I took this job. The neighborhood’s rebirth in the past 18 months is nothing short of astonishing, and we will keep fighting, house to house and store to store, until the job is done.”

Police were at the location of the former Sunoco Thursday afternoon. Their cars were surrounding the store, blocking it to the public. Officers were boarding up the store and preparing to put up a fence around the building.

According to the release, Huntington store owner Abderahamane Eloirzazi, also known as “Abe.” Eloirzazi, 44, of Huntington, is the owner and operator of Huntington-area convenience store, ALLINONE Store, located at 1954 9th Avenue.

From some time prior to June 2010 and continuing until January 2012, Eloirzazi, Stephanie Pauley, 35, and Cynthia Gibson, 40, both of Huntington, allegedly conspired together and with other known individuals in an illegal EBT card-swiping scheme that took place at ALLINONE.

It is alleged in court documents that the defendants fraudulently swiped certain recipients' Mountain State Cards by charging a certain dollar amount against the value of the recipient's card, according to the release. The indictment alleges that the defendants then gave the recipients 50 to 65 cents on the dollar in cash and/or ineligible items. It was further a part of the alleged conspiracy that the ALLINONE bank account received by wire transaction, the full amount of the fraudulent transactions. In total, it is alleged the three co-defendants redeemed approximately $127,000 in SNAP benefits.

The convenience store has been in the news several times for criminal activity. Just last week, it was the scene of a shooting. Shootings also happened at the station in 2009 and 2010. Last year, it was also the scene of a federal investigation into black market cigarette sales. The owner at the time, Basil Al Talouzi, was sentenced to five years in prison for the crime. Investigators say that he sold more than three million cigarettes on the black market, costing the state about $94,000 in taxes.

The release went on to explain that the former Sunoco building was not the only location involved in this scheme.

According to the release, Ibrahim Osman Owayda, also known as “Abe.” Owayda, 34, of Huntington, was a manager of Huntington Mart, which is located at 1117 Hal Greer Boulevard. Beginning in, or before, June 2010 and continuing until about November 2011, Owayda allegedly exchanged cash for SNAP benefits on a discounted basis from various customers of the Huntington Mart. In total, it is alleged that Owayda redeemed approximately $297,871 in SNAP benefits.

Eloirzazi faces up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine; Pauley faces up to 15 years in prison and a $750,000 fine; Gibson faces up to 25 years in prison and a $1million fine; and Owayda faces up to 25 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.

Investigations and arrests of the defendants represent a collaborative effort of the following agencies: the Department of Agriculture, the Huntington Police Department, the West Virginia State Police and the Department of Homeland Security. Assistant United States Attorney Erik Goes is in charge of the prosecution.

A nuisance law was passed in Huntington in 2009. Activity at the former Sunoco is what prompted city council to get the law moving. In 2008, officers were called to the station more than 300 times.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A gas station connected to a history of crime is now shut down.

Huntington Police tell WSAZ.com that they have closed the former Sunoco on 20th Street and 9th Avenue.

Police were on the scene Thursday. Their cars were surrounding the store, blocking it to the public. They were boarding up the store and preparing to put up a fence around the building.

Police aren't releasing much information about why the store is being shut down, but say it comes after an investigation.

They tell WSAZ.com that four people have been arrested, but at this time, their names or charges haven't been released.

Police were inside the gas station taking inventory.

The station has been in the news several times for criminal activity. Just last week, it was the scene of a shooting. Shootings also happened at the station in 2009 and 2010. Last year, it was also the scene of a federal investigation into black market cigarette sales. The owner at the time, Basil Al Talouzi, was sentenced to five years in prison for the crime. Investigators say that he sold more than three million cigarettes on the black market, costing the state about $94,000 in taxes.

A nuisance law was passed in Huntington in 2009. Activity at the former Sunoco is what prompted city council to get the law moving. In 2008, officers were called to the station more than 300 times.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest with this story.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WSAZ NewsChannel 3 645 Fifth Avenue Huntington, WV 25701 304-697-4780 WSAZ Charleston 111 Columbia Avenue Charleston, WV 25302 304-344-3521
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 139045344 - wsaz.com/a?a=139045344