A former Ohio convenience store owner was sentenced to 33 months in prison Friday for $2.8 million in food stamp fraud, WKBN reported.
George Rafidi, 62, will serve his prison sentence for food stamp fraud after he completes a 94-month prison sentence for assaulting federal agents with a firearm.
Rafidi was convicted of that crime after a jury trial found evidence that showed he pointed a gun at federal agents and local police who were investigating food stamp fraud at his home in Lordstown.
Rafidi operated Breaden Market in Youngstown since 2010. The U.S. Department of Agriculture started investigating the store after audits revealed the store redeemed more than ten times the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits of larger stores in the area, according to court documents and testimony.
Agents learned Rafidi allowed food stamps to be exchanged for cash and to be used to purchase forbidden items such as alcohol and tobacco.
Agents reported that people would sometimes line up outside the door to exchange food stamps.
In addition to his prison sentence, Rafidi was ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution and forked over $23,000 in cash during the course of the investigation.
A federal grand jury also prosecuted a store clerk and 29 food stamp recipients, each of whom received at least $5,000 in cash.