A reader sent me this story from Columbus, Ohio yesterday. What do you know, another Somali former refugee is convicted of food stamp fraud! See a similar story I just posted less than three weeks ago from Michigan, here.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
A federal jury returned eight guilty verdicts yesterday against a Somali immigrant involved in a $4 million food-stamp fraud scheme.
Shuceeb Geedi, 51, showed no emotion as bailiff Andy Quisumbing read the verdicts in U.S. District Court in Columbus. About 10 of Geedi’s friends and relatives remained silent.
After the verdicts, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Bosley said investigators from the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture saved taxpayers millions by stopping the fraud.
Geedi was released on his own recognizance. [What a joke, facing 80 years do you think this guy is going to hang around—ed]. A sentencing date has not been set. He could be sent to prison for 80 years.
He was found guilty on all charges – fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and theft – for exchanging food stamps and Women, Infants and Children program vouchers for cash and phone cards at two Columbus markets.
He and seven other men were indicted in January 2008 for the scheme, which involved four markets that catered to the Somali community and lasted from January 2002 to August 2006.
Federal prosecutors said Geedi played a key role as manager of two of the stores.
Geedi’s attorney argued that a culture and language gap kept him from knowing it was wrong! What a crock of you know what. This is one of dozens and dozens of similar stories I’ve come across in three years of Muslims (Africans, Pakistanis or Middle Easterners) involved in this massive fraud on the US taxpayer.
The defense argued that a culture and language gap prevented Geedi from knowing his actions were wrong. A translator was at Geedi’s side throughout the trial.
I sure hope that in addition to these isolated raids (where the local media acts like theirs is an isolated case) the feds are looking into a wider scheme that encourages immigrants to set up such operations where you can be sure some of your taxpayer dollars are being sent abroad. Then get this—AUTHORITIES DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO OWNS THIS STORE!
Defense attorney James D. Owen said prosecutors didn’t have enough proof to convict his client. Witnesses were even inconsistent about who owned and operated the stores, Owen said.
Just as I was working on this post, I see there is another raid of a convenience store, this time in St. Paul. The article doesn’t tell us who owns and operates this store, but a video news account shows a man said to be the owner (who is obviously a Middle Easterner) leaving the store. One neighbor said that the store did so much “business” with people taking in food stamps that she had to wait in line for half an hour to buy a candy bar.
Update September 18th*** Law enforcement must be on a roll! Here felony charges for food stamp fraud filed against three more immigrant run businesses in Toledo this time.
For more information: Use our search function for ‘food stamp fraud’ for dozens more cases like this one. If I had known this was such a widespread scam when I first discovered it occurring in my county seat in 2007, I would have made a whole category for the topic!