Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Crime

May 29, 2013

Sting targets welfare fraud in Niagara Falls

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Investigators said during the course of the food stamp investigation they also linked Kaur and Singh to a Medicaid fraud scheme and charged them with that as well.

Also charged and arraigned on Monday was Merry Mart owner Wael Rizek. Rizek, 42, was charged with third-degree grand larceny, misuse of food stamps, six counts of first-degree falsifying business records and six counts of first-degree tampering with public records.

City Court Judge Angelo Morinello set bail for all three men at $5,000 cash or $10,000 property.

Voutour said that during the course of the investigation more than $180,000 was confiscated. The sheriff said he is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to seize the funds and return them to the taxpayers of Niagara County.

“This took a lot of time and a lot of effort, but the result was pretty good,” Voutour said. 

As part of the investigation, 38 Niagara County food stamp clients, who were committing unauthorized purchases with food stamp funds and/or selling their food stamps for cash, were identified and interviewed. In return for their cooperation, the individuals were not criminally charged, but they did agree to settlements that discontinue their food stamp eligibility for one year. 

The savings to Niagara County taxpayers as a result of those deals is estimated at over $100,000.

Voutour said the probe is ongoing, with additional retail locations and food stamp clients being investigated.

“This investigation was absolutely meant to send a message that (food stamp) fraud will not be tolerated,” Voutour said. 

The sheriff’s office was assisted in the investigation by the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office, the Niagara County Department of Social Services, the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

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