KCK store owner sentenced to more than 4 years in prison for food stamp fraud

A Kansas City, Kan., store owner was sentenced Monday to 4.75 years in federal prison for food stamp fraud, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.

The store owner also was ordered to pay approximately $227,000 in restitution.

Sajjad S. Chaudhry, 47, Kansas City, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

In his plea, he admitted the crimes occurred while he owned the KC Gas Mart at 2850 State Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. The store participated in a federal food stamp program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The store came under investigation in the summer of 2013 because it reported engaging in thousands of dollars of SNAP benefits transaction, many of which were large purchases.

Undercover investigators working with the USDA exchanged SNAP benefits for cash at KC Gas Mart, receiving approximately 50 percent of the value of the SNAP benefits. The rules of the program prohibit approved vendors from trading cash for food stamps, accepting food stamps for ineligible items and accepting food stamps from people who are not authorized to use them.

In addition, Chaudhry admitted he used another person’s electronic benefits card to purchase food items at a Sam’s Club store in Kansas City, Kan.

Grissom commended the USDA-OIG and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Tomasic for their work on the case.