Historic Northeast grocery store owners convicted of $150,000 food stamp fraud conspiracy

Posted December 17, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Northeast News
December 17, 2013

Two Historic Northeast grocery store owners have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in a $151,000 food stamp fraud conspiracy.

Ibrahim Alanbuki, 45, and his wife, Mona Jwad, 33, who are both naturalized U.S. citizens from Iraq, were sentenced in separate hearings before U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on Dec. 16. Alanbuki was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison without parole and was ordered to forfeit $50,000 to the government which represents the proceeds he received from the conspiracy. Jwad was sentenced to five years of probation.

Alanbuki and Jwad are the owners of Al-Forat Bakery, 4436 St. John Ave., Kansas City, Mo. Both Alanbuki and Jwad, as well as co-defendant Hani Al-Zaidi, 47, an Iraqi national, have pleaded guilty to participating in a 15-month-long conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and wire fraud. They admitted they defrauded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, which helps lower-income individuals and families buy food.

Al-Zaidi recruited homeless people to give him their SNAP electronic benefit cards and their PINs in exchange for a percentage of the benefits in cash. Al-Zaidi would then take the benefit cards to Al-Forat, where Alanbuki completed a fraudulent transaction to make it appear as though he sold food items to the recipients in amounts ranging from $25 to $250. Alanbuki split the proceeds of the fraudulent transactions, kicking back about 50 percent in cash to the food stamp recipients, about 20 percent to Al-Zaidi and keeping the remainder.

Alanbuki also accepted SNAP benefits to pay the beneficiary’s utility bills, or sell the beneficiary ineligible items such as cigarettes or calling cards. Alanbuki and Jwad also used benefit cards and PINs belonging to others to buy their own food.

Al-Zaidi was sentenced on Oct. 8, 2013, to time already served in custody (approximately 15 months) and ordered to pay restitution.