Grocery store manager stole nearly $5 million, feds say

In this Sept. 24, 2013, file photo, freshly cut stacks of $100 bills make their way down the line at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas. A man who managed a Birmingham, Alabama, grocery store pleaded guilty to food stamp and tax fraud charges.
In this Sept. 24, 2013, file image, freshly cut stacks of $100 bills make their way down the line at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Forex Facility in Fort Value, Texas. A person who managed a Birmingham, Alabama, grocery retail outlet pleaded guilty to foods stamp and tax fraud fees.


A man accused of stealing almost $5 million from the federal government whilst controlling a grocery store in Alabama pleaded guilty to a food items stamp and tax fraud scheme on July 6.

Prosecutors said he drained the Birmingham store’s lender account of a lot more than $3.7 million by manipulating the nationwide, federally funded meals stamp application from 2014 to 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work for the Northern District of Alabama reported in a July 7 news release.

Decreased-earnings families can receive added benefits from the Supplemental Nourishment Guidance System “so they can obtain balanced food items and move in the direction of self-sufficiency,” according to the U.S. Office of Agriculture.

Birmingham resident Omar Motley, 42, who managed the Huge B Meals Mart, will have to repay more than $4.6 million to the IRS and the USDA right after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax fraud expenses, according to the attorney’s business.

“Motley diverted funds from the software to eventually profit himself,” Lisa Fontanette, the IRS-Felony Investigation assistant exclusive agent in cost, mentioned in a statement.

“On top rated of that, he did not pay back taxes cash which could have additional served our citizens.”

McClatchy Information contacted Motley’s legal professional for remark on July 8 and was awaiting a reaction.

Motley owes almost $850,000 to the IRS and additional than $3.8 million to the USDA after he was indicted in March 2021, the news launch mentioned.

The food items stamp fraud

As a result of Motley’s posture as the Huge B Meals Mart supervisor, he was an licensed signatory for the store’s financial institution account and could function it on his possess, court files point out.

Due to the fact the grocery retail outlet is a element of the SNAP Application, it can “sell particular qualified food objects in trade for foods stamp rewards,” prosecutors stated.

When a client uses their food stuff stamp gains with an electronic reward transfer card, comparable to a debit card, the USDA cash “the respective payments of the SNAP gain transactions to the authorized” retail outlet, in accordance to court docket paperwork.

In this situation, the income — the program’s added benefits redemption payments — went to Large B Foodstuff Mart’s lender account, in accordance to the attorney’s office environment, and Motley “took advantage” of that, Fontanette mentioned.

From November 2014 to March 2017, Motley would illegally redeem “EBT SNAP rewards for hard cash and ineligible merchandise,” in accordance to the release.

As a result, investigators learned that the added benefits redeemed at the grocery retail outlet “were 52 periods higher than in the same way sized stores in the space,” prosecutors said.

The indictment alleges Motley was conscious that his actions violated federal regulation.

The tax fraud

Motley is also accused of furnishing a fake tax return to the IRS in 2015 following prosecutors claimed he overstated how much Large B Food Mart offered that year, court docket files condition.

In doing so, prosecutors claimed he been given a big tax cut and value the IRS $847,001.

Prosecutors also accused Motley of beneath-reporting how a great deal cash he gained by redeeming SNAP benefits, the news launch said.

“Motley confirmed a blatant disregard for other folks,” Fontanette claimed and called his responsible plea a “victory” for Birmingham.

His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8, according to the information launch. He faces a likely sentence of up to 23 several years in jail in full.

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Julia Marnin is a McClatchy Countrywide Authentic-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast though based in New York. She’s an alumna of The University of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Beforehand, she’s penned for Newsweek, Modern-day Luxury, Gannett and more.