A twofer today on food stamp fraud: Pottstown, PA and Green Bay, WI

Longtime readers know that following food stamp fraud is a hobby of mine here at RRW.  Something is happening because the number of busts seem to be increasing!  Should we thank the O-man in the White House?   Perhaps!

Also, for critics who think I’m selecting busts of immigrant scammers and skipping over the Bakers, the Smiths and the Jones trafficking in food stamps, I’m not.  Easily nine out of ten stories I come across through my alerts involve immigrant-owned or managed stores.

I don’t think all of the cases are isolated, there is some international criminal element involved (some of your scammed money is sent out of the country), but I have no idea what it is, just some guesses.

I had two intriguing cases show up yesterday.  Looks like in both cases they are Indian store owners.  Hey, Professor Kotkin are these some of your immigrant entrepreneurs moving to middle America?

From The Mercury:

POTTSTOWN — Two people were arrested after police served search warrants at three borough stores in connection with a fraud investigation involving food stamp access cards.

Adbu Aljash, 38, of Pottstown, and Kuldip Kaur, 40, of King of Prussia, were both charged with felony corrupt organization and other related charges, according to court documents.

An unhappy Indian? Kuldip Kaur couldn’t post bail and is in the slammer.

Kaur worked at the Quick Mart Grocery Store on 55 E. High Street. Customers were able to buy cigarettes, non-food items and could receive cash back on their government-issued ACCESS cards, according to court records.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General had been monitoring Kaur and the store since last August 2012, according to the police report.

During that time, approximately $94,865 worth of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) transactions happened at the store, the police report said.

Undercover agents made five trips to the Quick Mart, the report said.

The officer picked up a few items and during the transaction and then asked for $75 in cash back. Kaur charged $159.70 to the card, then told the undercover agent not to ask anyone else in the store to make those types of transactions, according to the report.

On four subsequent visits, undercover officers asked for cash on the ACCESS card, the report said.

During a trip on Dec. 19, 2012, the officer reported that Kaur told them to “type in what you want” when the officer asked for cash back, according to the report.

When an undercover officer asked Kaur how much he would get if Kaur took $250 off the card, she allegedly told the officer he would receive $125, the report said.


When Kaur was arrested Friday afternoon, she seemed confused but did not resist the police. During the execution of the search warrant, police also found drug paraphernalia.

It’s unclear if Aljash is Indian, his name doesn’t appear to be Indian (his photo is posted at the story in a slide show of the arrests, so have a look).

The transactions that Aljash made were much lower, but he is involved in two schemes using the cards at borough convenience stores, according to police.

Aljash allegedly took part in ACCESS card fraud schemes at a store at 315 E. High St. and a store at 435 N. Charlotte St., according to the police report.

In our second case today, from Green Bay, a family of Sikhs have already plead guilty and are awaiting sentencing for a number of charges involving food stamp fraud.

From the Green Bay Press Gazette:

A family of three will be sentenced April 29 in Brown County Circuit Court on charges connected to food stamp fraud at a store they own and operate on Green Bay’s northeast side.

Gurnek and Gurdeep Basanti and their daughter Simarjot, 26, all pleaded guilty to charges on Thursday. Gurnek and Gurdeep each pleaded to a felony count of food stamp fraud involving a value between $100 and $5,000, and two misdemeanor counts involving a value of less than $100.

They both were facing two felonies and 18 misdemeanors involving more food stamp fraud charges, theft and credit card fraud.

This case also has a hate crime element—a hater or a disgruntled customer?

The Basantis were charged in August with running a food stamp fraud operation out of the store. The complaint said that, with the cooperation of some of their food stamp customers, the couple would overcharge them and pocket the extra cash. They also allegedly would allow those customers to buy alcohol and cigarettes, products that are prohibited under the food stamp program. They also would require some of their customers to leave their credit cards in the store for a period as security for debt and they allegedly used the cards to make purchases.

They have been operating another store, Dollar Land, at the Irwin Avenue site since losing their liquor license. The store was in the news earlier this month when a man emptied a small vial of gasoline onto the cash register and lit it, causing minor damage.

James Parrish, 53, of Green Bay, is accused of arson as a hate crime, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and carrying a concealed weapon in connection with the incident. His next court appearance is April 5.

Parrish was charged with a hate crime because the Basantis are Sikh Americans.

Any real investigative reporters out there?  We have dozens and dozens of examples of immigrant-run food stamp fraud cases from sea to shining sea.  This is a potential Pulitzer prize winning story for someone!  Type ‘food stamp fraud’ into our search function and see what I mean.

My theory is that there are international operatives who recruit potential store owners, train them, provide seed money, and with the help of US attorneys who specialize in helping procure investor visas get them set up in the lucrative business of scamming the American taxpayer.

Menendez: ‘Temporary refugees’ should have a path to citizenship

Yes, that is from the beleaguered New Jersey Senator, Robert  Menendez now facing corruption charges.  Could that Gang of Eight soon become the Gang of Seven?

Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, member of the Gang of Eight, under fire in NJ. Photo: Star Ledger

The story about immigrants with Temporary Protected Status wanting to become citizens (because honestly they are already permanent!) needs some clarification before you read it.

A migrant with TPS status can do anything a legal American citizen can do except vote.

Those with TPS status (El Salvador leads the pack) first got into the US illegally—they were first illegal aliens!   Then as a result of something going on in their home country—a civil war, a big storm, an earthquake—the benevolent US crafted this program so that they wouldn’t be immediately returned to a country that was struggling to recover at that moment.

We understood that at some point they would go home!  That is not to be, every year one or or the other of the eight nationalities gets an extension and this has gone on for decades.   (You can see the eight favored groups, here).  We recently added Syrians to TPS, but heck, why is Somalia still on there when we are told it’s safe to go home?

Remittances are a driving force behind keeping this program going as we knew, but was brought home recently with comments from Maryland Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez here at my other blog.   American money sent abroad props up governments.

And, by the way, CASA de Maryland was born out of the so-called ‘sanctuary movement’ when Quakers (among other “religious” people) broke the law by bringing Salvadorans across the border in the early 1980’s here (scroll down to second half of the post, links to Betty “rainbow” Hoover no longer work).

With that background, here then is the story from ABC yesterday (emphasis mine):

 An immigration reform bill being drafted in the Senate may offer an expedited path to citizenship to nearly 300,000 people who are currently in the U.S. under a temporary program designed to protect people who face physical danger in their own country.   [Faced physical danger maybe in the past—ed]

The program in question is called Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and it allows people to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation if they follow the law. But the status offers no formal pathway to citizenship, and some immigrants have been here for decades without being able to apply for a green card.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of a bipartisan group working on a Senate immigration bill, told the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión on Tuesday that the details still weren’t finalized, but that such a pathway should be considered as part of reform.

“I think that it’s expected that these people, that have been here under a legal avenue, should have some possibility to change their status in a quicker manner,” Menendez said. “[We] haven’t reach a final agreement in respect to that.”

The program, which was part of a large-scale immigration law passed in 1990, gives certain immigrants who are already in the U.S. a way to remain in the country if they face imminent dangers in their home country, such as a civil war or a natural disaster. Temporary Protected Status was born because existing refugee and asylum programs weren’t adequately addressing the needs of immigrants fleeing countries like El Salvador, which was enmeshed in civil war in the 1980s and early ’90s, according to Anwen Hughes, senior counsel at Human Rights First, a nonpartisan group that works on immigration issues. Two-thirds of people living in the country under TPS are Salvadorean.


Some conservative critics have said that the program is problematic because it isn’t actually temporary. Salvadorans, for example, were re-authorized for TPS after a series of earthquakes in 2001, and have been eligible for the status ever since. At this point, many Salvadorans with TPS have established roots in the U.S., so if that status was suddenly revoked, it could mean expelling residents who have been living and working in the country for decades.

Type ‘temporary protected status’ into our search function to learn more about this racket.