Guilty Plea Entered In Manchester Food Stamp Fraud Case

·2 min read

MANCHESTER, CT — A former Manchester convenience store staffer has entered a guilty plea in a food stamp fraud case that includes letting customers purchase male enhancement pills with SNAP benefit cards.

John Durham, United States attorney for the District of Connecticut, said that Siddiq Chaudhary, 70, of South Windsor, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Tuesday to food stamp fraud offenses before U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall.

Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, the guilty plea proceeding occurred via video conference.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program features SNAP Cards, which are distributed to low-income households to provide them with the opportunity to achieve a "more nutritious diet by increasing their food-purchasing power."

SNAP recipients are able to purchase "eligible food items" at retail food stores through the use of the SNAP Card, which is electronic benefits transfer, or EBT card.

SNAP benefits may be accepted by authorized retailers only in exchange for eligible items, according to federal regulations. Items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, paper goods and soaps are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

The program is designed so that the total amount of each purchase is electronically transferred to the retailer’s designated bank account.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Chaudhary worked at Manchester Quick Mart at 262 Oakland St. From November 2016 to January 2020, Chaudhary and "others" at Manchester Quick Mart illegally allowed customers to redeem their food stamp benefits for cash and other ineligible items, including gasoline and male enhancement pills.

Chaudhary and others charged the customers' SNAP cards a premium of approximately 40 percent or more for the illegal transactions, Durham said.

Chaudhary was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on Jan. 23, case records show.

Chaudhary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, and one count of food stamp fraud, Durham said. Judge Hall scheduled sentencing for Oct. 13. Chaudhary is facing a maximum prison term of 10 years.

Chaudhary is currently free on a $100,000 bond, pending sentencing.

Durham said the investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.

This article originally appeared on the Manchester Patch

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting