Brothers indicted for food stamp fraud, again - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Brothers indicted for food stamp fraud, again

CLEVELAND - Two brothers who served time in prison for food stamp fraud have been named in indictments accusing them of conducting a similar scheme again.

Amin and Sami Salem, with the help of their wives, illegally acquired $10.8 million worth of food stamps and welfare vouchers at the store they ran on Cleveland's east side, prosecutors said.

Amin Salem, 46, and his wife Asmahan, and Sami Salem, 43, and his wife Nefuz, were indicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court on six charges, including fraud, theft of public money and witness tampering.

Prosecutors said the operation started in 1995 -- while the brothers were still serving time after pleading guilty to running the same scam from the same store in 1992. In the previous operation, the brothers got $6.6 million after buying welfare vouchers for 75 to 80 cents on the dollar or trading the vouchers for beer, then submitting them to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for full value.

In 1995, workers at the market the brothers have operated for more than a decade under various names began accepting food stamps and vouchers including Women, Infants and Children credits for impermissible items, like beer and cigarettes. They also bought the vouchers at a reduced value, redeemed them at full price and pocketed the difference, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the brothers would pay off workers to keep them quiet.

In 1997, the brothers transferred ownership of the store to Romany Gaid -- who was charged with fraud, conspiracy and money laundering this year in a related case -- but continued to profit from the scheme through 2001, prosecutors said.

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