A pair of federal indictments unsealed Tuesday allege a dozen people linked to two Ogden convenience stores participated in an elaborate food stamp scam that netted about $8.6 million in USDA benefits.
The stores named in the indictment handed down by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City are Westside Valley Market, 873 W. 24th St., and 9th Street Corner Market, 1390 9th St.
Individuals arrested in connection with Westside Valley Market include:
• Zia Atta, 38, of Ogden.
• Aweas Akbar Al-Quadri, 21, of Ogden.
• Naseer Hamad Durani, 39, of Rocklin, Calif.
• Farad Said Farani, 36, of Ogden.
• Mariana Navarro Farani, 29, of Ogden.
• Seraj Ghasem Pour Babakandi, 23, of West Haven.
• Shershah Lodin, 39, of Pittsburg, Calif.
Those arrested in connection with 9th Street Corner Market include Atta and:
• Masood Aziz, 36, of Elk Grove, Calif.
• Diana Funez, 19, of Ogden.
• Fidel Funez-Limon, 18, of Ogden.
• Sharara Haidari, 30, of Elk Grove, Calif.
• Siavosh Sabri, 41, of Salt Lake City.
The stores are also named as defendants in the indictment.
The defendants face multiple counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; wire fraud; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits Program fraud; access device fraud; conspiracy to commit money laundering; and money laundering.
The defendants from Utah will make their first appearance in federal court today. If convicted, they face prison sentences ranging from five to 20 years on most of the charges and fines of $250,000.
Federal prosecutors are seeking the seizure of homes in Elk Grove, Thornton and Marysville, Calif.; a home and commercial property in Ogden; several bank accounts; and judgments totaling $7.7 million.