(KMOV.com) – The owner of a local discount smoke shop pled guilty to food stamp fraud on Monday.
According to police, Ebraheem Maki Naif, 51, of St. Louis and owner of Gravois Discount Smokes, redeemed approximately $1.9 million in food stamp benefits between January 2008 and May 2012 and received the same in federal appropriated money and reimbursement for the food stamp sales.
Police said Naif redeemed $690,198 in food stamp transactions in 2011. Also in 2011, Naif reported to the City of St. Louis the cost of goods he sold was $25,750 and that he received $80,000 in gross receipts for the sale of those goods.
In his plea, Naif admitted to conducting illegal food stamp transactions and allowing customers to purchase merchandise and receive cash back for food stamp sales.
Police said Naif admitted that due to his illegal food stamp sales, he caused losses of at least $605,398 in 2011.
Naif agreed to forfeit $30,765 and a vehicle seized from him during the investigation.
Naif pled guilty to one felony count of food stamp fraud. Sentencing has been set for August 11, 2014.
Food stamp fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.
Prosecutors told News 4 they need more man power to stop food stamp fraud.
"There aren't enough investigators with the food and drug administration to monitor the food stamp program and here in St Louis we have one investigator who works these fraud cases," US Attorney Richard Callahan said.