GUTHRIE, OK — In the past fiscal year, 6,600 cases of food stamp fraud were reported in Oklahoma. 40 percent of those were from anonymous tips.
It was one of those tips that led to the arrest of a Guthrie convenience store owner, who’s now accused of turning food stamps into cash.
38-year-old Ali Khan, the owner and operator of G-mart in Guthrie, is accused of repeatedly defrauding the system. He’s been charged with 10 counts of trafficking SNAP (food stamp) benefits.
In several counts, Khan allegedly debited about $120 from a person’s SNAP card, gave that card holder $100 cash, and then kept $20 as a “fee.”
A DHS affidavit shows transactions dating back to the spring of 2012.
DHS received an anonymous complaint from a SNAP client who admitted to taking part in the trafficking.
Courtney Cover says, “It’s pretty much like stealing.”
Courtney Cover says she would never abuse the SNAP program; for fear that she’d lose the benefits that feed her four kids.
Trafficking, she says, hurts those law-abiding recipients.
Cover says, “People like me who need food stamps, it makes it harder to get them, you know, because they put more restrictions on it and it takes more to qualify.”
NewsChannel 4 tried to catch up to Khan as he left the Logan County Courthouse arraignment, but he ran across the street and jumped into a van. We got a similar reception at the G-mart.
Mark Beutler, an OKDHS Spokesman, says, “The penalties can be quite severe; anywhere from criminal charges being filed, to removal from the SNAP program for up to a year or permanently.
So if you’re thinking about doing something illegal, there’s a good chance you’re going to get caught.”
And Khan is no stranger to NewsChannel 4. Last night we did a story about him. This time it was for something completely different.
It was an update to a story we first brought you last year involving illegal Vegas-style slot machines found inside several Guthrie gas stations.
Authorities say the large gambling ring involved at least eight different people, several gas stations, and nearly two dozen gaming machines.
Police also say the suspects were illegally pocketing thousands of dollars from this operation every week.