FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A Fairfield woman and her brother were charged with committing federal food stamp fraud at a deli they owned and operated in Bridgeport on Thursday, May 15, according to the U.S. attorney for Connecticut.
The indictment against Jamila Aboutayeb, 54, says that she unlawfully exchanged food stamps from customers for ineligible items and cash at the store from June 2013 to March 2014. Her brother, Khalid Aboutabyeb, 45, of Bridgeport, accepted food stamps for ineligible items between December 2011 and February 2013, the statement said.
According to statements made in court, the investigation found that $285,000 in illegal benefits were redeemed at the store.
If convicted, the brother and sister could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The two operated M&J Deli Market at 988 State St. in Bridgeport. Both appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport and are currently detained on the charges.
Items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, paper goods and soaps are not eligible for purchase with food stamp benefits, and it is a violation of the rules and regulations governing the food stamp program to allow benefits to be used to purchase ineligible items, the U.S. attorney said in a statement.
The incident is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Felice M. Duffy.