Feds: Bradenton store owners bilked U.S. out of $857K in food stamp scheme

MANATEE -- The owners of a Bradenton convenience store have been indicted on charges they bilked the federal government of more than $857,000 in a food stamp scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa.

Majdi Juma, 29, Hikmat Juma, 38, and Nidal Juma, 40, owned and operated the Super Corner Food Mart, 909 First St. E., Bradenton.

"From July 2008 through February 2010, (the defendants) allegedly conspired and schemed to cheat the (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) by purchasing SNAP benefits from SCFM customers in exchange for cash, minus a fee of approximately 50 percent of the total amount charged to the individual recipient's SNAP account," a news release states.

"This is an illegal practice known as 'discounting' or 'cash-back.'"

Prosecutors allege the scheme cost the federal government $857,321.

The multi-count indictment charges each defendant with a varying number counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, food stamp fraud and structuring financial transactions. If convicted of all the charges, they face up to 130 years to 155 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Bradenton Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.