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Store Owner Convicted In $612,000 Food Stamp Fraud

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FLINT (WWJ/AP) - A federal jury has found a Flint store owner guilty to accusations he participating in a $612,000 food stamp fraud scheme.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says 55-year-old Noha Fofana was convicted of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.

McQuade said Fofana, who owns Mandingo African Market, redeemed $750,000 in food stamp benefits from February 2009 to July 2011, and $612,000 came from illegal “food stamps-for-cash” exchanges.

An investigation also found that during that same time period, Mandingo’s average food stamp redemption amount was $26,798 per month — compared to an average of $5,479 monthly redemption for other convenience stores in the area.

Witnesses say Fofana and others would obtain Michigan bridge cards or bridge card numbers from recipients and call the numbers into the store. McQuade said members of the conspiracy then manually entered the bridge card numbers at the Mandingo Market in order to transfer the benefits to the market’s bank account.

Investigators say the store agreed to pay customers, including undercover law enforcement agents, roughly 50 cents for each $1 charged against their cards.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith is scheduled to sentence Fofana on Nov. 20.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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