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Man pleads guilty in latest Waco food stamp fraud case

KWKT
Friday, June 14, 2013 - 1:27pm

A Waco man has pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge for his reported role in fraudulent food stamp usage conducted in his store.

Jamal Akhter and his wife, Magdalena, were both indicted on March 12 after an investigation led to their arrests.

According to McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna, investigators with the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission conducted a sting operation at M&J Food Mart, located at 1501 North 15th Street, leading to the discovery of fraudulent food stamp usage.

Reyna says this is the second big case he's worked on since a similar sting was conducted at Swift P store in 2011 which also resulted in federal prosecution of the store merchant. About 100 food stamp account holders were also arrested in the sting. The investigators approached Reyna before the sting to create a partnership in order to prosecute fraudulent food stamp users.

Within the partnership, the DA's office is awarded $280 for each case prosecuted. That money is a part of "an agreement executed in 1982 whereby the state of Texas would pay the local jurisdiction that was prosecuting these cases a set amount of money to offset the amount of money for resources used." That money goes to the ADAPT (Alchohol Drug Abuse Prevention) Fund to use for services. Since Reyna has taken office, the fund has quadrupled in size, going from $11,000 to $45,000.

In the M&J Food Mart case, Reyna says the DA's office has already issued at least two indictments. Investigators "have projected anywhere from 30-40 cases with restitution amounts from $80,000 to $82,000," says Reyna.

Akhter is scheduled back for sentencing on August 7.

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