Khaled Saleh was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Monday for defrauding government and nutrition programs. Saleh, 48, is the owner of Sunset Food Market in Waukegan, Ill. He was charged with exchanging cash with customers who were using nutrition coupons and food stamps. Information about the illegal practice was collected by authorities during an undercover investigation.
Khaled and his wife, Fatima Saleh, acquired more than $844,000 by paying customers for goods they had purchased at other stories using their benefits, reports NBC Chicago.
Most of the time, the Salehs would pay approximately half the value of what the goods were actually worth. After getting the products on the cheap, the couple would then re-sell them at their own store for much higher prices.
During the course of the investigation, an agent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, exchanged food stamp benefits for cash. The agent also used benefits to purchase baby formula at a discount store and then re-sold it to the Salehs for half the price in cash. The agent did this on several occasions as part of the undercover operation.
After being arrested in May of 2011, the Salehs both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud government programs last August. Sentencing for Fatima Saleh has been postponed until March 22.
The government forfeited $391,616 in cash and bank account funds that were seized from the Salehs. Khaled Saleh has been ordered to pay $453,013 in restitution for the remaining balance.
Source: (NBC Chicago)