B’ham grocery store manager sentenced for wire fraud, tax fraud

B’ham grocery store manager sentenced for wire fraud, tax fraud
B’ham grocery store manager sentenced for wire fraud, tax fraud(MGN)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 3:38 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A grocery store manager in Birmingham was sentenced for wire fraud and tax fraud.

The United States Department of Justice released the following press release regarding the sentencing.

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a manager of a Birmingham grocery store on charges of wire fraud and tax fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, Investigations, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Salina Walker, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James Dorsey.

U.S. District Court Judge Karon O. Bowdre sentenced Omar Motley, 42, of Birmingham, to 46 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $847,001 in restitution to the IRS and $4,750,000 to the USDA. USDA administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Motley pleaded guilty to one count of tax fraud and one count of wire fraud in July 2022.

“This defendant used his position and took advantage of a program intended to help families in need,” said U.S. Attorney Escalona. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who defraud the SNAP program.”

“This investigation and prosecution should send a strong zero-tolerance message to those individuals engaged in the practice of defrauding the taxpayer-funded SNAP program,” said Salina Walker, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, USDA-Office of Inspector General. “It should also serve as a warning to all stores that participate in the SNAP program as vendors that fraud and trafficking (purchasing those benefits for cash) will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted by the USDA-OIG, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and all its federal, state, and local partners that have a stake in ensuring that fraud is eliminated from taxpayer-funded programs.

“Motley’s actions enabled himself and others to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is in place to supplement needy families’ food budgets,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “Store owners who participate in SNAP should take note that defrauding any government program will carry consequences.”

According to court documents, Motley was the manager of the Big B Food Mart located on 24th Street North, in Birmingham, which was authorized to accept SNAP benefits.  Between November 2014 and March 2017, Motley unlawfully redeemed SNAP EBT benefits for cash and ineligible items.  During this time, SNAP benefits redeemed at Big B Food Mart were 52 times greater than at similarly sized stores in the area. Motley’s manipulation of the SNAP program resulted in illegal gains of over $4.6 million.  Also, in 2015, Motley under-reported to IRS the income he received from redeeming SNAP benefits.

The USDA-OIG and IRS-CI investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Catherine Crosby prosecuted the case.

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