How did this guy get citizenship and still need an interpreter? Did he buy it of claim to be a refugee?

Alabama grocer to forfeit $5.2 million in food stamp fraud case
By Kent Faulk\
on March 08, 2016 at 4:03 PM,
updated March 08, 2016 at 4:06 PM

The owner of a Bessemer grocery store will forfeit $5.2 million to the federal government related to his guilty plea Tuesday to food stamp fraud, money laundering, and other charges.

Hasan F. Ahmed, 50, owner of Associated Discount Foods on 9th Street South in Bessemer, pleaded guilty to one count of food stamp fraud, four counts of money laundering, one count tax evasion, and one count of structuring bank transactions.

U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor accepted Ahmed's guilty plea and said Ahmed's sentencing would be held in about 90 days.
Ahmed was not among the 17 people arrested in the Birmingham area in a sweep last year by law enforcement that was the biggest food stamp fraud investigation in Jefferson County's history.Ahmed is a U.S. citizen, but had an interpreter who speaks Bengali at Tuesday's hearing.

Ahmed was charged Dec. 28 and his plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office was filed the same day.

The Food Stamp Program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or SNAP, is a federally funded, national program established by the United States Government to alleviate hunger and malnutrition among lower income families. Under that program retailers may only accept SNAP benefits in exchange for eligible food items, according to Ahmed's plea deal. SNAP benefits may not, in any case, be exchanged for cash - a practice commonly referred to as "trafficking" - or other forbidden items such as alcohol, tobacco products, lottery tickets or fuel.

SNAP program clients use Electronic Benefit Transfer – or EBT – cards in order to access their benefits. This system allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to electronically track how much a specific retailer is redeeming in SNAP benefits per month and to track the SNAP redemption funds deposited in a specific retailer's bank accounts due to SNAP redemptions.

According to Ahmed's plea deal:

Ahmed incorporated Maisha, Inc., doing business as Associated Discount Foods (ADF), in 2005.

From January 2007 through December 2010, midsized, neighborhood grocery store had average monthly SNAP redemptions of $4,196. In January 2011, the store's redemptions increased significantly to $17,457. By April 2011, the store's monthly SNAP redemptions surpassed the average monthly redemptions of five other medium sized grocery stores within a fourteen mile radius of the store.

ADF's redemptions increased dramatically in 2011 because Ahmed began illegally trafficking in SNAP benefits or exchanging SNAP benefits for cash.

For example, Ahmed would accept $65 in SNAP benefits in exchange for $50 in cash. He would retain the additional $15 as profit.

Ahmed personally conducted all the SNAP benefit for cash transactions, according to the plea deal. He also allowed customers to purchase ineligible items such as alcohol, paper products, household items, diapers, and toiletries using SNAP EBT benefits, according to the plea deal. For example, on or about May 22, 2014, Ahmed purchased $168 in USDA food stamp benefits from a cooperating witness for $100 in cash and approximately $24 in eligible grocery items and a six pack of beer.

Ahmed also allowed individuals to borrow on credit against their SNAP benefits, according to the plea deal. And he allowed individuals to redeem SNAP benefits that were not in their name. He understood that these transactions violated SNAP regulations and were illegal.

In 2013, ADF's average monthly SNAP redemptions totaled $195,809. By comparison, similarly sized stores in Alabama had average monthly redemptions totaling $12,099 and the national average totaled $9,567. Moreover, the 2013 average monthly SNAP redemptions for ADF exceeded the 2013 average monthly SNAP redemptions for one large grocery store and four supermarkets within a ten mile radius of the store.

Based on ADF's total SNAP redemptions and comparison analysis, the Ahmed acquired an estimated $5,243,866 in SNAP benefits from July 2011 through June 2014 in a way that was contrary to law, according to the plea deal.

Ahmed also was charged with tax evasion for reporting that his total taxable income for 2013 was zero when it was really $210,926 for that year, according to the plea deal.

The money laundering charge involved Ahmed moving money from the grocery store's business accounts into a personal checking account that was in another person's name "in whole or in part to conceal or disguise that this money was the product of the food stamp fraud he had committed through ADF," according to the plea deal.

The structuring charge involved Ahmed making deposits or withdrawals just under $10,000 to avoid banking rules that require identification in order to conduct such transactions of $10,000 or more.

Ahmed is represented by attorneys Michael P Hanle and Kathryn Lippert.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erica Williamson is prosecuting the case.