Local Businessman Pleads Guilty In Food Stamp Fraud Case

By: Paul J. Gately Email
By: Paul J. Gately Email

WACO (June 14, 2013)—A Waco business owner pleaded guilty Thursday to federal wire fraud in connection with a food stamp scheme he operated out of his store.

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith set Jamal Akhter for sentencing on August 7.

Akhter’s wife Magdalena Akhter faces the same charge but her court date was set off until next week after Smith granted her attorney a continuance.

Both were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 12 after investigators uncovered the scheme they say revolved around Akhter purchasing Lone Star Card benefits from card holders at his M&J Food Mart, 1505 N. 15th St., for half their face value.

Documents presented in court showed Akhter would charge a customers card, as an example, for $200, then pocket half of the cash and give the rest to the customer.

The food stamp program, called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would re-pay the business for the full amount.

SNAP is a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The case is the second of its type uncovered in the Waco area in recent months.

Prosecutors say Akhter defrauded the U.S. Government out of more than $350,000.

Another Waco business owner, Phillip Ferguson Haynes Jr., pleaded guilty to wire fraud and unauthorized use or possession of a benefit in connection with a similar scheme he ran out of Swift P's JKP Pizza on Waco Drive.

Haynes was sentenced last August to serve 33 months in federal prison.

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