A man from Westchester has pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal Food Stamp Program in Connecticut.
On Tuesday, Deidre Daly, the United States District Attorney for Connecticut announced that 33-year-old Harrison resident Tahir Shazad has waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty in Hartford federal court to individual counts of unlawful use of food stamp benefits and conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.
According to Daly, Shazad worked at WB Trade Fair Grocery in Waterbury, where he served as occasional store manager for his uncle’s business, supervising no less than four employees at the location. From November 2014 to June 2016, it is alleged that Shazad and others illegally allowed customers to redeem their food stamps for cash benefits and other ineligible items, including cigarettes, glass pipes, bongs and hookahs.
While working at the store, Shazad allegedly charged the customers’ food stamp cards approximately double the value for the illegal transactions.
“Given the stock of eligible food items at the store, the number of registers and the customer amenities, it is estimated that WB Trade Fair Grocery could lawfully redeem at most between $120,000 to $240,000 per year in food stamp benefits,” Daly alleges. “However, during this approximately 18-month period, food stamp redemptions at the store totaled approximately $3.2 million.”
Shazad is due back in court on Thursday, July 13, where he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to twice the gross loss from the offense and restitution. He is currently released on $50,000 bond. Two others who were implicated on the same charges, Raul Carlos Moncara-Gonzalez was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment while Tallat Mahmood pleaded guilty last month and is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, July 12.