Owners of small South Hills grocers accused of food-stamp fraud

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Two Brentwood men who ran separate small grocery stores in the South Hills were indicted Wednesday for wire fraud and food stamp fraud, documents filed today in U.S. District Court show.

Samson Dweh, 30, ran Mariama African Store in Carrick, according to the indictment naming him.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture authorized him to begin accepting food stamps in February 2009.

Starting in August 2010, according to the indictment, Mr. Dweh started paying cash for food stamp benefits, paying around 50 cents on each dollar of benefit the customer sought to cash in.

He would then bill the U.S.D.A. as if the benefits were spent on food, according to the indictment.

Through last year, Mr. Dweh redeemed more than $200,000 in food stamp benefits, "a substantial portion of such benefits having been unlawfully purchased for cash; accepted as payment on credit accounts or loans; and/or accepted as payment for ineligible items," according to the indictment.

Emile Bizimungu, 31, faces similar accusations as regards the Dollar Grocery Center in Mt. Oliver, according to the indictment against him.

The USDA approved him to accept food stamp cards in Aug. 2011. Starting a month later, according to the indictment, he began trading benefits for cash, and the total reached more than $40,000, according to the charges.

Both men are to be arraigned next month before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tonya Goodman is prosecuting them.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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