Grocery Owners Bilked $500,000 From Food Stamp Progam: Feds

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A pair of north suburban grocery store owners bilked the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the food stamp and nutrition programs, prosecutors allege.

    Khaled and Fatima Saleh, owners of Sunset Food Market in Waukegan, are accused of defrauding the government of more than $500,000. Authorities said they exchanged food stamp benefits for cash to an undercover agent on several occasions which led to the arrest of the two earlier this year.

    They also allegedly purchased items, typically infant formula, that customers bought at other stores using their program benefits, paid customers approximately half of the value of the items in cash and then re-sold the same items in their store at a substantially higher price.

    After a search of the store, federal agents spotted Fatima Saleh attempting to leave her apartment with a suitcase that contained more than $350,000 in cash.

    Agents then searched the Saleh residence and found an additional $25,000 in cash as well as more than 800 food program vouchers, officials said.

    The two are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud government programs and one count of Agriculture Department program fraud in a two count indictment.

    Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.