Waco: Local Businesswoman Pleads Guilty In Food Stamp Fraud Case

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

WACO (June 20, 2013)--Just a week after her husband pleaded guilty to a similar charge, a Waco businesswoman pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges in a food stamp abuse case.

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith set Magdalena Akhter for sentencing on August 14 after she pleaded guilty to an information charging false, fictitious or fraudulent claims.

Her husband Jamal Akhter pleaded guilty last Thursday to wire fraud in connection with the food stamp scheme that prosecutors say he and his wife operated out of his store.

Smith set Jamal Akhter for sentencing on August 7.

Both were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 12 after investigators uncovered the scheme, which they say revolved around the Akhters 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 the couple would charge a customer’s 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 the couple 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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