MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The owner of a St. Paul market was indicted in Minneapolis Federal Court Wednesday for trafficking about $3 million in food stamps, according to court documents.
Khaffak Sahib Ansari, 45 of Arden Hills, was charged Wednesday with three counts of food stamp fraud in connection with the crime. Ansari had owned the Stryker Avenue Market in St. Paul.
The indictment alleges that between January 2006 and Oct. 7, 2010, Ansari exchanged food stamps for money and ineligible merchandise.
The USDA authorized his market to accept food stamps in 1998, and Ansari told authorities that he attended retailer orientation and understood the rules behind food stamps. Every person who receives food stamps gets an electronic card which contains monthly allocated funds that can be used at authorized stores.
The USDA reimburses stores for that money, but only if it's used to buy eligible items. Those do not include alcohol, tobacco and cell phone products. Food stamps also cannot be redeemed for cash.
Inspectors began investigating the Stryker Avenue Market in 2008. It was discovered that on several occasions, Ansari allegedly exchanged food stamps for cash and ineligible items. One count in the indictment alleges that on July 16, 2008, Ansari swiped a food stamps card for $401, and gave the person back $200 in cash.
Court documents also listed that between 2004 and 2009, the average food stamp redemption for a store of similar size was just less than $324,000. Stryker's redemptions during that time period came out to about $3.1 million.
If convicted, Ansari faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
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