A Boardman convenience store was raided last week by Boardman police and agents of the Ohio Investigative Unit who charged the 44-year-old owner of the business with seven counts of illegal use of the benefits of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) special supplemental nutrition program.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - better known as the WIC Program - serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care.
Acting on a search warrant approved by Boardman Court Judge Joseph Houser, Det. Glenn Patton said law enforcement officials raided the Boardman Convenient Mart, 8270 Market St., directly across from the Boardman police station, and found six Ohio Direction EBT cards, including five that were found in the purse of the business owner, Rana Hiam Abbas, 51, of 6711 West Blvd. “Purchases were made with the cards, and PINs were found with the cards,” Det. Patton said.
EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. The Ohio Direction Card is a debit card. A card holder cannot use more benefits than he/she is eligible to receive. Benefits are automatically deposited once a month into an account that can be accessed for benefits at almost all grocery stores using a so-called secret 4-digit PIN.
According to Det. Patton, Abbas told police she would sometimes “lend people money and they leave their cards. When they come back with the money, I give them their card back.”
However, Det. Patton said that Abbas admitted to using the cards that not been issued to her.
Police seized a variety of merchandise from the store, including some believed to have been purchased by Abbas with the direction cards.
Merchandise seized during the raid included six boxes of pantiliners, five packages of AAA batteries and condoms, Det. Patton said.
Police also seized a laptop computer, about $650, four note pads, two cell phones and a ledger book.
Police also raided Abbas’s home on West Blvd where they seized a metal spoon with white residue, two cell phones, $728, paperwork and a grinder with marihuana residue, Ptl. Michael Dado said. No one was home at the time of the raid.
Abbas was charged in Apr., 2007 with money laundering, pursuant to an indictment by a Mahoning County Grand Jury. At that time she was held on a $10,000 bond, but released after posting $1000 and surrender of her passport. According to police records, she was born in Syria.