(STL.News) – Two people have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and food stamp fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
The five-count Indictment named Laith Kadhem, 35, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Haydar Al-Kofi, 41, of Lakeside, California, as defendants.
According to the Indictment presented to the court, from in and around March 2016 to in and around September 2017, Kadhem, who was the owner and operator of Anwar Fresh Meat Market in Erie and Al-Kofi, who was the manager and partner working at Anwar Fresh Meat Market, conspired to defraud the United States by filing an application containing false information for a license to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and accepting food stamps for cash, and ineligible items.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 25 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000, or both for each defendant. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
Assistant United States Attorney Paul S. Sellers is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
This case was investigated as part of the Pittsburgh Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), a multi-agency partnership established to focus on high-impact criminal investigations involving the use of fraudulent documents in furtherance of immigrations benefit applications and petitions, financial fraud, criminal work-site enforcement, and public benefits fraud. The Pittsburgh DBFTF consists of the following agencies: Homeland Security Investigations, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, US Department of State-Diplomatic Security Service, US Department of Agriculture- Office of the Inspector General, US Department of Labor- Office of the Inspector General, and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.
An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.