32 indicted in Ohio in $2 million food stamp fraud case

Published: Mar. 24, 2016 at 8:56 AM EDT
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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WSAZ/WCMH) -- A federal grand jury has indicted 32 people for their roles in a $2 million food stamp fraud conspiracy.

According to the indictment, from June 2010 to October 2014, the 32 people conspired to defraud the US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, specifically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Investigators say they would convert illegally obtained SNAP benefits into money that the defendants could keep.

Investigators say in March 2010, George Rafidi filed articles of incorporation for Ghazy, LLC, doing business as Breaden Market, a convenience store in Youngstown, Ohio. He also completed and submitted a SNAP application for stores, for Breaden Market to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

The store opened the next month.

Police think that it was part of the conspiracy that SNAP beneficiaries went to Breaden Market and obtained cash and prohibited items, such as alcohol and tobacco, in exchange for their SNAP benefits. Rafidi fraudulently redeemed SNAP benefits and caused money to be deposited into Breaden Market's bank accounts, according to the indictment.

During the course of the conspiracy, Rafidi and Breaden Market submitted claims for more than $2 million in fraudulently obtained SNAP benefits, according to the indictment.