John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that SIDDIQ CHAUDHARY, 70, of South Windsor, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall to food stamp fraud offenses.
Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the guilty plea proceeding occurred via videoconference.
The federal Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (“SNAP”) is administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and utilizes federal tax dollars to subsidize low-income households to provide them with the opportunity to achieve a more nutritious diet by increasing their food-purchasing power. SNAP recipients purchase eligible food items at retail food stores through the use of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, and SNAP benefits may be accepted by authorized retailers only in exchange for eligible items. Items such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, paper goods and soaps are not eligible for purchase with Food Stamp benefits, and it is a violation of the rules and regulations governing the food stamp program to allow benefits to be used to purchase ineligible items. SNAP benefits may not lawfully be exchanged for cash under any circumstances. The program is designed so that the total amount of each purchase is electronically transferred to the retailer’s designated bank account.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Chaudhary worked at Manchester Quick Mart, located at 262 Oakland Street in Manchester. From November 2016 to January 2020, Chaudhary and others at Manchester Quick Mart illegally allowed customers to redeem their food stamp benefits for cash and other ineligible items, including gasoline and male enhancement pills. Chaudhary and others charged the customers’ food stamp cards a premium of approximately 40 percent or more for these illegal transactions.
Chaudhary was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on January 23, 2020.
Chaudhary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, and one count of food stamp fraud. Judge Hall scheduled sentencing for October 13, 2020, at which time Chaudhary faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
Chaudhary is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.
This investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anastasia King.