A public shaming: Food stamp schemers must admit guilt

By Charles Sercombe
Four Bangladeshi market owners who were convicted of food stamp fraud were ordered to place a letter admitting their guilt in this newspaper for three weeks.
Federal Judge Avern Cohn told The Review he did this for one reason.
“I want them to be shamed,” Cohn said in a brief telephone conversation.
Cohn ordered the four, who are brothers, to have the letter printed in both English and Bangladesh and that it be published in The Review newspaper.
The brothers, Ali, Nazar, Mustak and Mohammed Ahmed, must also pay for the publication of the letter.
The letter of admission is on the front page of this issue.
In the letter, the brothers say:
“To readers, listen to us:
“If you cheat on food stamps you are committing a federal crime and will be punished for doing so. We know: We have been punished for cheating on food stamps.”
The four were part of 11 mostly Bangladeshi market owners who were charged with food stamp fraud in 2014 by the US Justice Department.
At press time Thursday it was not known what happened to the other seven people who were charged. A spokesman for the Detroit Justice Department promised to look into the matter.
At the time of the 2014 charges, the government said the fraud scheme was netting the suspects millions of dollars.
The four brothers, who operated Deshi Bazar on Conant, reaped over $500,000. They have each been ordered to pay restitution amounting between $500,000 and $700,000.
In addition, Ali Ahmed will serve nine months in prison, and the others will serve one day and be on probation for two years.
All of them were born in Bangladesh and became US citizens.
Prosecutors had sought to have Mohammed Ahmed serve additional prison time because he was also guilty of collecting welfare even though he was not qualified to do so.
Prosecutors also said the other brothers had improperly received public assistance.
The food stamp scheme was simple. People would exchange the cards for cash, usually for at least half their worth or a bit less, or for items that cannot be purchased using an EBT card, such as cigarettes and phone cards.
Reaction to the convictions and sentencing on social media has been mixed.
Some fellow Bengalis said the public shaming makes the entire Bangladeshi community look guilty.
“This is so embarrassing. Why people do that? And now cuz of certain people the whole community have to face embarrassment,” said Farzana Begum on a Facebook post on a group called The Hamtramck Community.
“And it’s not fair! Our elders are effed up and leaving sh*tty image for the new generation.”
Others said the punishment was too light.
“A slap on the wrist,” said Lolaa Bunnyy on the same Facebook page.

Nov. 9, 2018

3 Responses to A public shaming: Food stamp schemers must admit guilt

  1. Fatema Hossain

    November 10, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.

    If former Hamtramck Police Department officer Ryan McInerney is convicted of the charges in his pending civil rights indictment in the same federal court where Judge Cohn now sits, he should be forced to, as part of a sentence, to take out an ad in the same newspaper …

    Of course, this would never be part of any sentence and McInerney has been convicted of nothing as of yet, but double standards exist in the court system.
    (Editor’s note: The letter was edited.)

  2. Huh?

    November 12, 2018 at 11:01 am

    I think they got off very light considering the size of the fraud. They should all be doing jail time.

    trust me McInerney if found guilty will be getting jail time. He would love to get off with having to write an apology and post it in the paper.

    I just hope all the people that receive food stamps and participated in this fraud lose their rights to collect food stamps in the future. There are people that actually need the money to feed their families.

  3. Nick Konke

    November 17, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Wow this is Terrible. And even collecting public assistance (Welfare) while owning a store and Half of a million dollars fraud… That’s just what they know about. It was Alot more then that.. They are not the only ones doing this. They should be Deported so other people stealing from our government to help the people that really need help gets it legally. Stop Committing Fraud.. Also if anyone doing this was born here should get prison time. So many people are starving and homeless because So many People are doing this. I hope the people selling their bridge cards are charged also

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