(Cleveland) - Three Brook Park men were indicted Tuesday for defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) out $2 million.

According to the indictment, they worked for four Cleveland stores where they accepted food stamps for ineligible items such as beer and cigarettes.

Saed (Sam) Wahdan, 41, his brother, Maher (Mario) Wahdan, 42, and Nidal Jaber, 45, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud, one count of food stamp fraud and two counts of unlawful redemption of food stamps. Maher Wahdan faces an additional count of theft of public funds.

“The food stamp program has provided nutritious food to thousands of hungry families over the years,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “We will continue to work to recover money stolen from the program and eradicate waste, fraud and abuse of government programs.”

Between January 2008 and March 2012, the defendants and others conspired to commit more than $2 million in food-stamp fraud through four of their businesses: One Stop Beverage, 5105 Franklin Blvd.; Bridge Deli and Beverage, 4700 Bridge Ave.; Franklin Beverage and Deli, 4719 Franklin Blvd., and Scott Food Mart, 951 Linn Drive.

The Wahdans owned and operated all four stores but put them in the names of other people to conceal the fact that Saed Wahdan had a prior conviction for food stamp trafficking and Maher Wahdan had a prior conviction for impersonating an officer – both of which precluded their participation in the food stamp program, according to the indictment.

Dettlebach says the defendants used their businesses to exchange customer food stamps for cash and other unauthorized items, including beer and cigarettes. They also purchased food stamp cards from customers and used them at other grocery locations to purchase inventory for their stores and for their personal use, according to the indictment.

The indictment seeks to forfeit property derived from the proceeds of the criminal conduct of the Wahdans, including the following Cleveland properties: 9604 Dennison Ave.; 3353 West 44th Street; 3374 West 130th Street; 1452 West 75th Street and 951 Linn Drive.

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