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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2008

8 Toledo carryout workers held in fraud probe

BY GABE NELSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Eight Toledo convenience store employees were arrested yesterday following a 10-month investigation into the sale of stolen property and fraudulent use of food stamp cards at local stores, police said.

Six of the eight people were charged with either felony or misdemeanor receiving stolen property. Two were charged with illegal use of food stamps and telecommunications fraud, both of which are felonies, Lt. David Schmidt of the police department's property unit said.

The employees arrested yesterday were:

•Adel "Eddie" and Nabil "Bill" Saleh of the Peck Market, 1040 Peck St.

•Mohammad Zarour of Wag's Carryout, 422 Steadman St.

•Rebecca Coffey of Katie's Baby World, 1822 Lagrange St.

•Tahwer Qavi of Dollar Close-Outs, 2839 Monroe St.

•Ahmad Deen of the Lucky Dollar Mini Mart, 1713 Jefferson Ave.

•Michael Flowers and Sukhwinderdeep Singh of the Uptown Market II, 1602 Cherry St.

Three people charged with receiving stolen property remained at large yesterday, Lieutenant Schmidt said.

They were Wasif Alshahar of the Beer Dock, 932 Huron St.; Nawal Mamoud of the Prospect Red and White Market, 1902 North Detroit Ave., and Samir Braiteh of the Sunoco gas station, 350 West Bancroft St.

Mr. Braiteh was indicted July 10 by a Lucas County grand jury on six felony counts each of illegal use of food stamps and telecommunications fraud.

The telecommunications charges stem from the improper use of the electronic payment system by store clerks when they register purchases made with the cards.

Lieutenant Schmidt said the employees are accused of allowing unauthorized users to make purchases, or of ringing up purchases of goods - like alcohol - forbidden by the federal program.

The Ohio Investigative Unit collaborated with Toledo police in the investigation.

Lieutenant Schmidt said the employees accused of receiving stolen property bought goods stolen from retailers including Meijer, Walgreens, and Spartan Stores.

He said those stores reported a rash of thefts by professional shoplifters targeting small, high-cost items like razor blades, batteries, and baby formula.

Lieutenant Schmidt said police do not suspect conspiracy among the nine stores connected to yesterday's arrests.

"It's been going on for years, just in varying degrees at varying times," he said.



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