LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - A pair of Phillips County men were sentenced Thursday in federal court for their role in defrauding the United States Department of Agriculture and the federal SNAP food benefit program, federal prosecutors said.
According to a press release from the United States Attorney's office in Little Rock, Khalid Alkarsh and Bakil Mohamed Alqirsh, both of Helena-West Helena, appeared before District Judge Kristine G. Baker during a hearing.
Both Alkarsh, who was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison, and Alqirsh, who was sentenced to three years probation, pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to defraud the USDA and the program.
"SNAP benefits provide economic assistance for low-income individuals to purchase food. Alkarsh, who owned the Stop and Shop convenience store in Helena-West Helena, and Alqirsh, who was a cashier and manager at the store, allowed SNAP recipients to trade their SNAP benefits for ineligible items such as beer and cigarettes, and for cash. When a SNAP recipient redeemed their benefits for cash, Alkarsh and Alqirsh paid the recipient approximately 60% of the transaction amount, and the Stop and Shop kept 40%," spokesman Chris Givens said.
Both Alkarsh and Alqirsh were also ordered to jointly pay $107,486.36 in restitution to the USDA, Givens said.
Alkarsh and Alqirsh were among 24 people indicted in connection with the case, Givens said, noting the FBI and the USDA ran the joint investigation.
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