It has been awhile since I’ve seen an interesting food stamp fraud case which was one of my driving interests when I first started writing ‘Frauds and Crooks.’
For over ten years I had noticed that much of the SNAP fraud involved trafficking in benefits at mom and pop convenience stores owned or managed by ‘new Americans.’ I wrote about a lot of cases at RRW before launching ‘Frauds and Crooks.’
I’m not seeing as many juicy cases these days, but this one caught my eye because the perps wanted to be deported to their “native country” instead of serving time in the slammer.
Sheesh! And, you would know it—it took a long time to find out exactly which was their “native country.”
Here is the news from this week at the Herald-Dispatch from Huntington, WV:
Brother in food stamp scheme transferred to federal custody, faces revocation
HUNTINGTON — A Huntington man who admitted to food stamp fraud as part of an organized criminal enterprise three years ago has been transferred to federal custody to face possible supervision revocation after he was accused of committing those crimes while under federal supervision.
Basim Tallozi, 64, and Samir Tallozi, 67, admitted in a Cabell County courtroom in 2017 that together, and with employees of the former Save Way gas station in the 1300 block of Madison Avenue, customers would be given lists of items needed to stock the store in exchange for 50% of the items’ cash value. On at least one occasion, items were brought to the brothers’ home. On some occasions, customers were taken to different businesses to make the purchases.
The business had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as to how the items were purchased. Only a receipt was required for the transaction to prove the items were not stolen.
Basim Tallozi admitted to giving drugs, including meth and marijuana, to beneficiaries four times in place of the 50% cash value.
Their scheme came to a crashing halt in 2016 after Cabell County agencies raided their homes and business. An uprising in theft, drug trafficking and prostitution at and near the West Huntington neighborhood business was a direct result of the illegal trading and food stamp fraud, Cabell County assistant prosecutor Joe Fincham previously said.
Both brothers said during their plea hearings that they did not understand what they were doing was against the law at the time of their arrest.
Basim Tallozi’s attorney had requested at the time of his Cabell County sentencing that he be allowed to voluntarily give up his citizenship and be deported back to his native country as punishment instead of costly imprisonment, but Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell declined.
As a result of his state charges, federal agents issued a warrant for his arrest and made a request to revoke his supervision.
Samir Tallozi has also been released from state prison.
I don’t know what exactly that means but I don’t think it means they will deport him. His brother is already free! What the heck! They were sentenced to over a decade in prison. Why are they out so soon?
Here we go! Ah the joys of diversity!
Took me a while to find it, but here we are! They are Jordanian!
This is the first time I have ever seen any mention of deportation for food stamp fraud. It is too bad the judge turned it down.
Again, from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch from April 2017:
Brothers facing stiff sentences or deportation
HUNTINGTON — Although they were sentenced Tuesday to serve decades in prison for their participation in an organized criminal enterprise, the Tallozi brothers could soon return to their native country of Jordan.
The Save Way benefit fraud operation’s leader, Samir Tallozi, 64, was sentenced to 10 years, and his brother, Basim Tallozi, 61, was sentenced to 16 to 20 years in prison. Both brothers additionally were sentenced to $25,000 in fines each for the scheme they orchestrated in the Central City neighborhood of Huntington.
The brothers admitted on Monday together, and with employees of the former Save Way gas station in the 1300 block of Madison Avenue, that customers would be given lists of items needed to stock the store, which they could purchase with government benefit cards in exchange for 50 percent of the items’ cash value. On some occasions, customers were transported to different businesses to make the purchases.
Samir Tallozi pleaded guilty Monday to engaging in organized criminal enterprise and benefit fraud.
Basim Tallozi pleaded guilty to eight counts including conspiracy, engaging in an organized criminal enterprise, recruiting members to join an organized criminal enterprise and benefit fraud. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of delivery of marijuana and one count of delivery of crystal meth.
The brothers still face deportation at their May 18 reconsideration hearing. Samir Tallozi holds a green card to live in the United States, while Basim is a naturalized American citizen who has lived in the country for 35 years, raising two children. He also obtained a college degree in civil engineering.
Basim Tallozi’s attorney, Kerry Nessel, presented an offer at the sentencing hearing: He told Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell, who often bans out-of-state offenders from returning to Cabell County, that his client would willingly turn over his citizenship to the United States and return to Jordan in return for no jail time.
“I’m dead serious about this. You would be making a great statement to the people of the state by sending them back there. Let them take care of him,” he said. “Nobody’s benefiting by sending him to prison.
We aren’t sending them across the river over to Ohio to where he could get across the bridge.”
Don’t ask me why they are out so soon, but deportation is the punishment I’ve long advocated for crooks like these.
If you are interested, you can read all the details of their crimes here.