Grocery store owner, employees arrested for food stamp fraud
Five suspects accused of using food program benefits to gain profit
Following a five-year investigation into a food stamp fraud ring, a Portland resident and four Beaverton residents associated with a Beaverton grocery store and gas station were arrested on Tuesday.
Beaverton police detectives and U.S. Department of Agriculture and Office of the Inspector General agents arrested Mahmoud Tajgerdu, 42, Negin Tajgerdu, 23, Bahman Hoshmand, 39, Aziz Darakhshani, 38, all of Beaverton, and Rafik Korkut, 35, of Portland, on various allegations including aggravated theft, unlawfully obtaining supplemental nutritional assistance and perjury involving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Mahmoud Tajgerdu is the co-owner of the Beaverton Halal Meat and Mediterranean Groceries on Southwest Canyon Road. Negin Tajgerdu is Mahmoud's daughter, and the other three are his employees at the market and a 76 gas station he also owns.
The investigation, which began in 2009 at the Beaverton Halal Meat and Mediterranean Groceries, showed Mahmoud Tajgerdu allowed program recipients to exchange their benefits for cash in exchange for a fee, said Officer Mike Rowe, spokesman with the Beaverton Police Department.
Formerly the Food Stamp program, SNAP is a U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance program that provides food to low-income families by authorizing grocery stores to accept food stamps and credit accrued on electronic benefit transfer cards from authorized recipients for eligible food items. The card benefits can be legally used only to buy food.
In essence, if an individual wanted $100 in cash, the store would charge $125 to the SNAP card, and the store would keep the $25 as its fee, Rowe explained. The individuals would not purchase any food and would receive only cash. Three employees of the grocery and the 76 gas station Tajgerdu also owns were arrested along with Tajgerdu's daughter, Rowe said.
Mahmoud Tajgerdu faces nine allegations of first-degree aggravated theft and nine counts of unlawfully obtaining supplemental nutritional assistance. Negin Tajgerdu faces nine counts of perjury. Hoshmand is facing nine counts of first-degree aggravated theft and nine counts of unlawfully obtaining supplemental nutritional assistance. Darakhshani faces one count of first-degree aggravated theft and one count of unlawfully obtaining supplemental nutritional assistance. Korkut faces three allegations of first-degree aggravated theft and three counts of unlawfully obtaining supplemental nutritional assistance.
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