By Bryan P. Sears
An Ellicott City man was among nine store owners who face federal food stamp and wire fraud charges related to a scheme to illegally redeem nearly $7 million food stamp benefits for cash.
The indictments were handed up by a federal grand jury in Baltimore last week but unsealed Tuesday.
Jung Kim, 51, of Ellicott City, was one of the nine charged. He owns C&C Market at 4752 Park Heights Avenue in Baltimore. The indictment alleges that between November 2010 through April 2013, Kim allegedly obtained more than $600,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
“Taxpayers fund the food stamp program to put food on the tables of needy recipients, not to put money in the pockets of greedy criminals,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement released Tuesday. “Food producers and distributors benefit when food stamp funds are used to buy food, and honest storeowners work hard to earn a profit by actually selling food. People who play by the rules deserve to know that criminals who defraud them will be held accountable.”
The eight others charged are:
• Abdullah Aljaradi, age 51, of Baltimore; Second Obama Express and D&M Deli and Grocery, 901 Harlem Avenue, Suite A and B, respectively. The indictment alleged that Aljaradi redeemed more than $2 million in payments for food sales that did not occur between October 2010 through July 2013.
• Dae Cho, age 66, and Hyung Cho, age 40, both of Catonsville; K&S Food Market, 3910 W. Belvedere Avenue. The indictment alleges that Dae Cho and her son, Hyung Cho, redeemed more than $1.4 million in benefits for food sales that never occurred between November 2010 through July 2013.
• Abdo Mohamed Nagi, age 54, of Baltimore; New York Deli and Grocery 1207 West Baltimore Street. The indictment alleges Nagi illegally redeemed more than $1.2 million in benefits for food sales that never occurred between February 2011 through May 2013.
• Kim Man Chu, age 38, of Rosedale, Maryland; Long Hing Grocery Store, 1131 Greenmount Avenue. The indictment alleges that between October 2010 through July 2013, Chu redeemed more than $750,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
• Amara Cisse, age 50, and Fanta Keita, age 45, both of Windsor Mill, Maryland; Simbo Food Mart, 2103 West Pratt Street. The indictment alleges that between November 2010 through May 2013, Cisse, and his wife Keita, redeemed more than $600,000 in payments for food sales that never occurred.
• John Cunningham, age 54, of Baltimore; Cunningham’s Amoco, 4419 Park Heights Avenue. Cunningham allegedly redeemed more than $348,000 in benefits for food sales that didn’t occur between December 2012 through July 2013.
In each case, the indictments allege that the defendants paid 50 cents on the dollar for the electronic debit card benefits and then debited the funds from the card of a period of hours or days.
All of the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud.
Jung Kim, Dae Cho and Hyung Cho also face a maximum of 20 years in prison for food stamp fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Aljaradi, Nagi, Chu, Cisse, Keita and Cunningham face a maximum of five years in prison for food stamp fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
All nine defendants are expected to have initial appearances later today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.