Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced the state’s largest undercover food stamp fraud bust and the arrests of three individuals involved on Thursday.
K & S convenience store employees Kameel Sweiss, 51, Ameer Sweis, 22, Faday Sweiss, 33, were arrested Wednesday for allegedly illegally conducting an enterprise, fraudulent schemes and artifices, money laundering, unlawful use of food stamps and computer tampering.
According to Horne, Wednesday morning SWAT units of the Phoenix Police Department entered the K & S convenience store to execute search warrants and seized $32,876 in cash, a key to a private bank vault holding $550,480 in cash, bank records, accounts, food stamp cards, business ledgers and three vehicles.
The arrests came following months of an undercover investigation involving the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Phoenix Police Department, United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, Arizona Department of Economic Security, as well as the Arizona Department of Revenue, which is conducting a separate and ongoing investigation.
“This business was stealing taxpayer money by allowing a person with a food stamp card to purchase something small, such as a bag of chips, and then overcharge that card to make a fraudulent profit,” Horne explained in a statement.
“This seizure is the largest in our state’s history with regard to food stamp fraud and should serve as a strong warning to those who continue to engage in these kinds of illegal actions,” he added.
The defendants appeared before a judge Wednesday night, in addition to the $100,00 bonds all are required to turn over their passports and if they are able to post bond, the judge ordered they will have to wear an ankle monitor.
“The Office of Inspector General at USDA remains committed, alongside our law enforcement partners, to investigate individuals and retailers involved in the trafficking of food stamp benefits in exchange for cash,” deputy counsel for the Office of the Inspector General Paul Feeney added.