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St. Paul Store Owner Gets 41 Months Of Food Stamp Fraud

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The owner of a St. Paul store will spend 41 months in prison for trafficking food stamps, the Department of Justice said.

Forty-six-year-old Khaffak Sahib Ansari, of Arden Hills, received his sentence Tuesday. Judge Paul A. Magnuson sentenced Ansari on one count of food stamp fraud, the department said.

Ansari pleaded guilty in September as part of a plea deal.

In his plea agreement, Ansari admitted that between Jan. 1, 2006, and Oct. 7, 2010, he exchanged the stamps for cash and ineligible merchandise at his store, Stryker Avenue Market.

For example, on July 16, 2008, Ansari swiped a person’s EBT card for $401.12 and then gave that person $200 in cash. Then, on Jan. 7, 2010, Ansari swiped another person’s card for $131.86 and provided that person $100 in cash.

Stryker Avenue Market started taking food stamps in 1998, the USDA said. He had to take an orientation class to make sure he understood the rules regarding the federal food stamp program and EBT cards.

The program clearly states that only eligible food items can be bought with food stamps or an EBT card, and items like alcohol, tobacco products, and cell phone minutes can’t be bought with the money. Additionally, food stamps can’t be redeemed for cash.

According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in the case, between 2004 and 2009, the average annual food stamp redemption for a similarly sized store in Minnesota was around $322,793. During that same period, Stryker’s annual redemptions totaled approximately $3.1 million.

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