This was more than just a grocery store…
HASAN F. AHMED, 50, owner and operator of Associated Discount Foods on Ninth Street South in Bessemer, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor to one count each of food stamp fraud, tax evasion and structuring currency transactions and four counts of money laundering. As part of his plea, Ahmed agreed to forfeit $5.2 million to the government as proceeds of his illegal activity, including his interest in $375,027 which the government already has seized from the grocery store and four bank accounts. Ahmed’s sentencing date has not been set.
Associated Discount Foods is a mid-sized neighborhood grocery store that was authorized by the USDA to accept SNAP food stamp benefits. “Based on ADF’s total SNAP redemptions and comparison analysis, the defendant acquired an estimated $5,243,866.49 in SNAP benefits from July 2011 through June 2014 in a way that was contrary to law,” the plea agreement states. Ahmed’s redemptions rose dramatically because he illegally swapped food stamps for cash, at less than the stamps’ face value, and allowed customers to purchase ineligible items with food stamp benefits at inflated rates, according to the document. For example, Ahmed would accept $65 in SNAP benefits in exchange for $50 in cash. He would retain the additional $15 as profit.
Ahmed controlled a checking account opened in the name of a relative, identified in court documents as R.N. Ahmed moved money into R.N.’s account from his grocery store’s business accounts, where SNAP benefits were electronically deposited, to conceal or disguise that the money was the product of his food stamp fraud.
U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor accepted Ahmed’s guilty plea in March, and said Ahmed’s sentencing would be held in about 90 days. Reportedly, Ahmed is a U.S. citizen, but had an interpreter who speaks Bengali at the hearing.
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