CSAO: Bridgeport Store Owner Charged in SNAP Benefits Fraud Scam

Bridgeport Store Owner Charged in SNAP Benefits Fraud Scam

The owner of a Bridgeport grocery store was arrested today and charged with illegally redeeming government food stamp benefits for cash and then using the proceeds to stock the shelves of his business.

ASLAM KHAWAJA, age 48, of Iranistan Avenue, Bridgeport, owner of the SK Grocery at 856 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, was charged with one count of Larceny in the First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.

The arrest was a result of a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, Office of the Attorney General, state Department of Social Services, United States Department of Agriculture - Office of Inspector General, and the United States Department of Agriculture FNS – Retailer Investigation Bureau.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Khawaja paid cash to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in exchange for their SNAP benefits at a rate of 50 percent of value. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp program, assists low-income individuals and families with purchasing food.

The warrant alleges that Khawaja used the benefits of 128 SNAP recipients to purchase more than $45,000 worth of merchandise offered for sale in his store.

Khawaja will be arraigned in Bridgeport Superior Court, G.A. No. 2, on April 22, 2014. The charges are merely allegations and he is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty.

The case will be prosecuted by the Government Program Fraud Bureau in the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office in Rocky Hill.

Content Last Modified on 4/16/2014 3:20:59 PM