Nine indicted for food stamp trafficking

(Cleveland) - A Cuyahoga County Grand Jury has indicted nine people in connection with two area businesses buying stolen property and food stamp cards.

The Ohio Investigative Unit and The United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General conducted search warrants at Kwik Check Deli, and a Cricket Wireless store both on Fulton Road in Cleveland.

Agents received a complaint regarding owners and employees in the Kwik Check Deli purchasing stolen items and reselling them in the store.

During the investigation, agents were also directed to the Cricket Wireless store located next to Kwik Check Deli. Agents discovered employees from that store were also allegedly trafficking in food stamp benefits.

“These individuals take benefits intended for families in need and use them for their own personal profit,” said Greg A. Croft OIU Cleveland Agent-in-Charge. “Fraudulent use of food stamps impacts families who need assistance, as well as taxpayers.”

The following suspects were indicted:

• Yousef Allan, 29, North Olmsted, on five counts of receiving stolen property, a first degree misdemeanor; five counts of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony; one count of telecommunication fraud, a fifth degree felony; and one count of theft, a first degree misdemeanor.

• Nafiz Allen, 39, North Olmsted, on seven counts of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony and two counts of receiving stolen property, a first degree misdemeanor.

• Antonio Gould, 36, Cleveland, on four counts of receiving stolen property, a first degree misdemeanor and three counts of trafficking in or illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony.

• Hamdy Mohammad, 20, North Olmsted, on three counts of receiving stolen property, a first degree misdemeanor; three counts of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony; one count of telecommunication fraud, a fifth degree felony; and one count of theft, a first degree misdemeanor.

• Joel Bell, 28, Cleveland, two counts of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony.

• Erik Melendez, 20, Brooklyn, on two counts of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony and one count of receiving stolen property, a first degree misdemeanor.

• Mercedes Hernandez, 64, Cleveland, two counts of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony; two counts of telecommunication fraud, a fifth degree felony; and two counts of theft, a first degree misdemeanor.

• Kayla Sanchez, 25, Cleveland, one count of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony; one count of telecommunication fraud, a fifth degree felony; and one count of theft, a first degree misdemeanor.

• Sindy Hernandez, 22, Cleveland, one count of illegal use of food stamps, a fifth degree felony; one count of telecommunication fraud, a fifth degree felony; and one count of theft, a first degree misdemeanor.

In March, agents issued 17 administrative charges related to food stamp fraud. Administrative charges will be presented to the Ohio Liquor Control Commission at a later date. Possible administrative penalties include fines, suspensions, or revocation of the liquor permit.

To report food stamp fraud, contact OIU by calling #677.

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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