BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE: Sufyan Hazem Saleh, 33 of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to one count tax fraud and one count of food stamp fraud.
Saleh has agreed to pay restitution of $498,470 to the IRS and $1,125,772 to the USDA. He is scheduled for sentencing September 10.
Saleh owns the now shut down City Supermarket, which was authorized to accept USDA food stamp benefits.
ORIGINAL: As part of a four month long investigation into the widespread crime of a public assistance fraud, 11 stores are closed and 17 people are in jail.
Convenience store employees and owners are buying EBT cards, then buying groceries at wholesale stores, bringing them back to their stores and racking up the prices for a profit.
That’s the crime that the District Attorney’s office, the Gardendale Police Department, the FBI and a dozen other agencies investigated for months.
Wednesday they had 257 arrest warrants for 20 people at 11 stores. Those 20 people are facing multiple charges, each of theft and fraud.
The following were arrested during the Wednesday raids: Mable Olympia Kirksey, Murad Nooruddin, Travis Wayne Holmes, Keith Lee Lucas, Jerry Brown, Audrey Morris, Mansoor Almansoob, Sufyan Saleh, Muneer Zindani, Fouad Zamzami, Vashir Abosaleh Mohamed, Mujaed Jowher Ali Almansoob, Ramzi Jowher Ali Almansoob, Saleh Yaha Rowaid, Ismail Hassan Elnaham and Abdulraham Alqublani.PHOTOS: Mug shots of all arrests
The stores are all over the city, and the DA said this is just the beginning.
“The deeper we got into this investigation, the more we determined this was widespread, throughout Birmingham. Quite frankly, I think if we had just concentrated on investigations trying to get everyone who is involved in this, we’d still be investigating and probably be investigating for the rest of this year,” said District Attorney Brandon Falls.
The DA said this is also just the beginning of their investigation into other crimes. They found spice at one store, guns at another and several stores were wiring cash and money to Yemen.
There’s still a lot to look in to, but for now every single store they raided is closed, and they’ve already filed with the courts to take all these stores away from their owners permanently.
The following stores faced closure Wednesday during the raids: Graymont Grocery, R&S Supermarket, Nana’s Supermarket, 3rd Avenue Package, Bessemer Market, 40th Street Grocery, Christy’s Texaco, Uptown Grocery, Triple M Foodmart, R&F Inc. Convenience Store and Muchies of Avondale.
Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News