Here are a pair of Food Stamp scam cases from this week, reported on the same day in the same city—Cleveland, OH. In the first case the local police get a reward of sorts and in the second we, the taxpayers, are bilked out of $24 million.
CLEVELAND, May 21 (UPI) — The Cleveland Police Department has received $1 million forfeited by two brothers who ran a food stamp fraud operation.
The money is part of $2.5 million paid by brothers Sami and Amin Salem as a part of their plea bargain.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service received $125,000 from the plea bargain, and the Ohio Department of Public Safety got $100,000.
The Salems, who ran a grocery store, admitted to trading beer, cigarettes and cash for $7.7 million worth of food stamps and welfare vouchers.
They often traded the stamps, which are supposed to be for food, for 75 cents on the dollar and then redeemed the food stamps for full value, the newspaper said.
Amin Salem was sentenced to three years in prison. Sami Salem received a year in prison as part of a plea bargain in which he agreed to provide information to investigators about other cases.
That’s cool, I hope he rats out a bunch of his friends.
The second case is outrageous!
CLEVELAND — A former grocery store owner who ran a $24 million food stamp fraud scheme will not serve prison time because of his poor health.
Mahmoud “Mike” Salti Jr., 47, of Westlake, got three years of probation and was ordered to pay $6 million during a hearing Tuesday in Youngstown federal court. Prosecutors acknowledge Salti does not have the money and will probably never pay the restitution.
Salti fled to Jordan shortly after a grand jury indicted him in 1996. He returned to the United States two years ago to plead guilty to conspiracy, money laundering and tax charges, but only did so because his health was failing.
Salti and his uncle, Mohammed Salti, ran nine grocery stores on Cleveland’s East Side in the 1980s. Prosecutors accused them of buying food stamps from recipients for about 75 cents on the dollar, then redeeming them for full value from the government.
The scam ended in 1994, when the grocery store owners realized they were being investigated, prosecutors said. The two men – both are Palestinians who became U.S. citizens – deeded their homes to their wives and fled to Jordan shortly before they were indicted in 1996.
Mohammed Salti remains in Jordan. The United States and Jordan do not have an extradition treaty, meaning the elder Salti may never be prosecuted, Edwards said.
We have followed Food Stamp fraud ever since it happened in our city and as we have said previously we don’t have any evidence that this involves refugees except that refugees use a lot of food stamps. See all our our previous posts on Food Stamp fraud here.