Westbrook Men Indicted for SNAP and WIC Trafficking Conspiracy
Two brothers, 40-year-old Ali Ratib Daham, and 21-year-old Abdulkareem Daham from Westbrook, Maine, were charged by indictment Tuesday with conspiracy to defraud and to commit offenses against the United States.
In addition, Ali Ratib Daham was charged with SNAP and WIC trafficking, wire fraud, money laundering and theft of government funds. The charges arise out of the defendants’ operation of Ahram Halal Market on Forest Avenue in Portland. Ali Ratib Daham was the owner and operator of the market; Abdulkareem was an employee.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) is a federal government program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, designed to raise the level of nutrition among low-income households. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (“WIC”) is a federal program that provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition for certain low-income women, and to infants and children up to age five who were found to be nutritionally at risk.
The indictment alleges that from about June 2011 until about April 2016, the defendants engaged in a SNAP and WIC trafficking conspiracy by allowing customers to exchange SNAP benefits and WIC checks for cash at a discounted rate and allowing SNAP benefits to be used to purchase ineligible goods or services or illegally pay off credit accounts at the market. The indictment also alleges that Ali Ratib Daham allowed customers to exchange SNAP benefits for cash or use their SNAP benefits to pay down credit accounts, allowed customers to redeem WIC coupons for cash, committed wire fraud by allowing a customer to use an EBT card containing SNAP benefits to obtain cash at a discounted rate, laundered proceeds of SNAP trafficking, and stole about $39,000 in SNAP and MaineCare benefits by failing to report or update changes to his income and assets with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (“MDHHS”).
Both defendants face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge. In addition, Ali Ratib Daham faces up to five years in prison on the WIC and SNAP trafficking charges, up to 20 years on each of the wire fraud and money laundering charges, up to ten years on the theft charges and up to a $250,000 fine on each count.
"I am extremely grateful to MDHHS' investigative team for their incredible work on uncovering and prosecuting potential welfare fraud; I am committed to maintaining this focus to ensure our limited taxpayer dollars are going toward those who truly need them. The collaboration between our Department and the FBI highlights the importance of working together to protect the integrity of our welfare system. I also appreciate the work done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) that led to the indictment.” said MDHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew.
This case is being investigated by the FBI; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; and the MDHHS, Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.