NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) Following a lengthy undercover investigation, the owners of two Niagara Falls stores were arrested this week on accusations they sold everything but food to food stamp recipients.
Members of a special team, posed as welfare recipients, bought all sorts of items not allowed by law from the Indian General Store on Pine Avenue and the Merry Mart on 19th Street.
Arrested was 52-year-old Jasib Kaur, owner of the Indian General Store. Kaur was charged with Grand Larceny, Misuse of Food Stamps, Falsifying Business Records, Tampering with Public Records, Welfare Fraud, and three counts of Offering False Instrument.
Indian General Store Co-owner, 59-year-old Shamsher Singh, was charged with Grand Larceny, Misuse of Food Stamps, Falsifying Business Records, Tampering with Public Records, Welfare Fraud, and one count of Offering False Instrument.
42-year-old Wael Rizek, owner of the Merry Mart, was charged with Grand Larceny, Misuse of Food Stamps, six counts of Falsifying Business Records, and six counts of Tampering with Public Records.
Deputies say nearly $200,000 was seized. Food stamp abuse is a big problem in Western New York and the nation, costing taxpayers about $750,000,000 each year.
The three owners were arraigned in Niagara Falls City Court. Bail was set at $5,000 cash or $10,000 property. All are expected to return to court Wednesday morning.
Deputies in Niagara County say several food stamp clients cooperated with their investigation. Those people are not in trouble with the law, but according to the Niagara Gazette, they're being forced to forfeit their benefits for one year.
Deputies in Niagara County are planning more stings because they believe the problem isn't dieing any time soon.