Brothers plead guilty to food stamp fraud at Downtown shop

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Brothers Hadi and Wesam Ibrahim, who own City News and Arcade, Downtown, pleaded guilty today to food stamp fraud and wire fraud, and must repay the government $200,000.

The brothers, who are Syrian natives, applied in 2009 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps, though their Wood Street store sold little in the way of approved nutriment, assistant U.S. attorney Tonya Sulia Goodman said at their plea hearing.

They then accepted food stamps for cigarettes, which violated the SNAP rules. They also paid roughly 50 cents in cash for every dollar of benefits a customer redeemed, then obtained the full amount from the USDA, Ms. Goodman said. Food stamps cannot be traded for cash.

Hadi Ibrahim, 42, of Greentree, and Wesam Ibrahim, 41, of Banksville, have agreed to repay $199,605 and allow the government to keep $945 it seized. They will also be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill on Aug. 14, and could receive anything from probation to a maximum of five years in prison.

The cases against them are part of an ongoing crackdown on food stamp fraud in the Pittsburgh area.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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