Grocery store owner charged with fraud

BRIDGEPORT – The owner of a Fairfield Avenue  grocery store was charged with illegally using government food stamp money to buy 1,200 cases of Red Bull.

Aslam Khawaja, 48, of Iranistan Avenue, the owner of the SK Grocery at 856 Fairfield Ave.,  was charged with one count of first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine.

The arrest was a result of a joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, Office of the Attorney General, state Department of Social Services, United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, and the United States Department of Agriculture FNS – Retailer Investigation Bureau.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Khawaja paid cash to 128 of his customers who are on the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in exchange for their SNAP benefits. He then used the benefits at the Fairfield BJ’s to purchase $45,000 in merchandise, including the cases of Red Bul, which he offered for sale at his store, the affidavit states.

Khawaja will be arraigned in  Superior Court on April 22. 

Daniel Tepfer