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Father, son found guilty in Oakland convenience store food stamp fraud scheme

CBS News Live
CBS News Bay Area Live

OAKLAND – The owner of a convenience store in East Oakland, along with his father, were found guilty on multiple counts for committing fraud involving the government's Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, federal prosecutors said.

According to U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds' office, a jury found 32-year-old Ali Mugalli Hassan and his father, 50-year-old Mugali Ahmand Hassan, guilty on four counts. The pair were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., government benefits fraud greater than $5,000, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

Before trial, prosecutors said Mugali Ahmand Hassan had pleaded guilty to nine other counts of wire fraud.

The younger Hassan owned and operated a convenience store on International Boulevard, while his father and other family members served as cashiers. Hassan's store was an authorized vendor for SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

Prosecutors said that between 2014 and 2017, the father and son conducted fraudulent SNAP transactions at the store by charging purchases on the customers' EBT cards, but the customers received few or no SNAP-eligible products. The pair then kept half of the value of the fraudulent transactions, giving the rest to customers in cash.

Along with the store transactions, prosecutors said the pair kept customers' EBT cards and used them at other stores to purchase items to sell at their own store.

According to prosecutors, the store engaged in more than $2.3 million in SNAP transactions over a three-year period. By comparison, the average "medium grocer" in Alameda County redeemed $520,000.

Prosecutors said the charge of conspiracy to commit benefits fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, while the other charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.

A sentencing hearing for both father and son are scheduled for December 8. The pair, who are both residents of Alameda, are out of custody.

The owner's uncle, Ahmed Ahmed Hasan Dharahan, is also facing charges connected to the scheme. A trial date has not been set, prosecutors said. 

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