A Wayne couple was charged Monday in federal court in Newark with exchanging food stamps for more than $4 million in cash, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Ibrahim Zughbi, 64, and his wife Miriam Zughbi, 59, were charged with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Ibrahim was also charged with money laundering.
The Zughbis managed Jamaica Meat Market, a grocery store in Paterson, that was authorized to accept SNAP benefits, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Those stores that are authorized under SNAP may sell food to customers in exchange for SNAP benefits – but they may not exchange the benefits for cash.
Authorities say that between 2014 and 2017 the couple exchanged more than $4 million in SNAP benefits for cash.
The high volume of SNAP benefit redemptions at Jamaica Meat Market tipped authorities off to possible fraud. Then a confidential source, at the direction of law enforcement, engaged in 16 “purchases” at the Jamaica Meat Market where one of the Zughbis exchanged money for SNAP benefits.