October 29, 2014

Owner of Babylon Grocery & Bakery Pleads Guilty to Food Stamp & Wire Fraud

ST. LOUIS, MO—Jalil Al-Hanoosh pled guilty to charges involving his scheme to buy food stamps from people for a discounted rate of cash, and redeem them at full value from the government. He additionally allowed customers to purchase ineligible items such as cigarettes, telephones, rugs, and other non-food items as well as receiving cash back for food stamp sales.

According to court documents, Jalil Ibrahim Al-Hanoosh, owner of Babylon Grocery & Bakery, 3803 Meramec Street, St. Louis, was authorized to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. This authorization allowed him to accept and redeem SNAP benefits/food stamps for eligible food items. Food stamp benefits were issued in the form of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (EBT). Between January 2008 through May 2012, Al-Hanoosh through Babylon Grocery & Bakery redeemed approximately $150,000 in illegal SNAP benefits using EBT cards.

Al-Hanoosh, 53, St. Louis, pled guilty to one felony count of wire fraud and two felony counts of food stamp fraud before United States District Judge E. Richard Webber. Sentencing has been set for January 21, 2015.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000; each count of food stamp fraud carries a maximum of five years prison and/or fines up to $10,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Anthony Franks and Dorothy McMurtry are handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.