Officials say the men schemed to divert tens of thousands of federal benefit dollars at Ahram Halal Market, a small store on Forest Avenue.

The owner of the Ahram Halal Market in Portland and his brother were indicted Tuesday on charges that they conspired to defraud the federal government of tens of thousands of dollars intended to benefit low-income families, women and children.

Ali Ratib Daham, 40, and Abdulkareem Daham, 21, both of Westbrook, are named in the federal indictment issued in U.S. District Court in Portland. The charges against Ali Daham also include wire fraud, money laundering and theft of government funds.

The conspiracy took place from July 2011 through April 2016 at the market at 630 Forest Ave., court documents say. The indictment alleges that during that period, the Dahams transferred $3.5 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, funds into a checking account. The account included a mixture of legitimate SNAP transactions as well as “proceeds from fraudulent SNAP transactions,” court records say.

The indictment also says that about $683,986 in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, funds were transferred into Ali Daham’s checking account and included a mixture of legitimate as well as fraudulent transactions.

SNAP, a federal program formerly known as food stamps, is designed to raise the level of nutrition among low-income households. WIC is a federal program that provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition for certain low-income women, and to infants and children as old as 5 who are determined to be nutritionally at risk.

“It was further part of the conspiracy that the defendants used some of the SNAP and WIC receipts from fraudulent transactions to purchase food inventory, to pay for the store’s operating expenses and for their personal use,” the indictment alleges.



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