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AG Tom Horne: Three Arrests Made In State's Largest-Ever Seizure In Undercover Food Stamp Operation

Approximately $700,000 Seized, Fifth Store Busted this Year by Inter-agency Group Called “StrikeForce: Quest”

Phoenix, AZ (Thursday, August 29, 2013) -- Attorney General Tom Horne is today announcing the arrests and initial court appearance of three people – Kameel Sweiss, 51, Ameer Sweis, 22, Faday Sweiss, 33 - all of whom work at K & S convenience store located at 6116 N 27th Avenue in Phoenix for Illegally Conducting an Enterprise, Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, Money Laundering, Unlawful Use of Food Stamps and Computer Tampering. 

At 8:30 yesterday morning, SWAT units of the Phoenix Police Department made dynamic entries into the K & S convenience store and Sweiss’ Peoria home, allowing search warrants to be executed.  Some of the evidence seized included $32,876 in cash and the key to a private bank vault that held $550,480 in cash.  Additional evidence seized included bank records and accounts, extraneous food stamp cards, business ledgers, and three vehicles.

“This business was stealing taxpayer money by allowing a person with a food stamp card to purchase something small, such as a bag of chips, and then overcharge that card to make a fraudulent profit,” said Attorney General Horne.  “This seizure is the largest in our state’s history with regard to food stamp fraud and should serve as a strong warning to those who continue to engage in these kinds of illegal actions.”

The probable cause arrests come after months of a coordinated undercover operation involving the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Phoenix Police Department (PD), United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, and Arizona Department of Economic Security.  The Arizona Department of Revenue took part in the search of the store in an ongoing and separate investigation.

“The Office of Inspector General at USDA remains committed, alongside our law enforcement partners, to investigate individuals and retailers involved in the trafficking of food stamp benefits in exchange for cash,” said Paul Feeney, Deputy Counsel for the Office of the Inspector General.

All three defendants had their initial appearance in front of a judge last night at 8 PM.  In addition to $100,000 bonds, all three are required to surrender their passports as a condition of release. They judge added that if any of the defendants post bond they will have to wear an ankle monitor.

Photos of the money seized from the bank vault, as well as the defendants, are attached.

These charges are merely allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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