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Gravois Smoke Shop Let Customers Buy Cigarettes, Cologne with Food Stamps

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Gravois Discount Smokes, also known as Abes Gravois Discount.
The owner of a southside smoke shop faces ten years in jail after pleading guilty Monday to running an illegal food-stamp market.

Ebraheem Maki Naif, 51, of St. Louis, says he let customers buy cigarettes, cologne and calling cards using food stamps at Abes Gravois Discount, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He also gave customers cash in exchange for their food stamps at his shop at Gravois Avenue and Chippewa Street in the Tower Grove South neighborhood.

See also: Video: East St. Louis Food Stamp Brawl Caught on Camera, Officials Consider Stricter Security

Naif says he redeemed almost $2 million in food-stamp benefits from January 2008 through May 2012 and received the same amount in federally appropriated reimbursement, according to the U.S. Attorney. His illegal food-stamp sales caused losses of at least $609,000 in 2011.

Naif pleaded guilty to one felony count of food-stamp fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. Naif has already forfeited more than $30,000 and a vehicle was seized from him during the investigation.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture investigated Naif's case. Sentencing is set for August 11.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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62 comments
James Madison
James Madison

Some people do not know what they cannot with food stamps. Poor education, and lack of mental capacity to read and learn. But that is a small percentage of the food stamp recipients. Most know the limits of the food stamp program. It is sad they seek shop owners who are also willing to break the law. In most cases, both are to blame. Those few with mental incapacities such not be given food stamps, but have a social worker help them buy food to eat.

Vicky Chlanda
Vicky Chlanda

Really?? Now get the rest of them. He's not the only one for sure!!!

Rita Rose Tibbetts
Rita Rose Tibbetts

Man....I cant buy cologne with money cuz I aint got none. ....lucky

Jay Rodenhofer Bearden
Jay Rodenhofer Bearden

wow! talk about abuse of the system. geesh! this store owner should go under and down.

davidwanderson52
davidwanderson52

Folks use their Uncle Sams Club Card all throughout the Bodegas of St.Louis to buy various commodities such as Liquor, Beer, Cigarettes, Rolling Paper, and Chips of all sorts.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

Those who cheated the system should be denied welfare for life. Fraud is fraud.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

Those who cheated should be denied welfare for life. Fraud is fraud.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

The customers should be denied welfare for life. Fraud is fraud. They knew it was illegal.

Brian Conley
Brian Conley

I want social assistance to be available to those in need, but I also realize that it is not a law to help those in need. The American people agree, via a democratic vote, that the indigent are the responsibility of the public. The American people can take that away via a new vote. A gift is something given to someone without expecting anything in return. Would you give a gift to someone who has previously disrespected a gift you gave them? I wouldn't.

Brian Conley
Brian Conley

It is certainly not a mandate. States are already streched by how much they can give out. Are you ready to be taxed more to cover others that need it? Have you ever been to a country that doesn't have social assistance and seen children starve face to face?

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

Food assistance is a gift? Wow.... How very generous of us. That is such a distasteful thing to say.

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

You're welcome! Using the "veteran" to insert as a talking point on anything to do with food assistance or jobs is just not acceptable behavior to me. It's not a idea to be tossed around to fit into people's politics. :-)

Rob Groves
Rob Groves

I have a difficult time when it comes to my family's grocery bill. We could have lied to qualify for food stamps but we didn't because according to the state I make too much money. So yes, I think this is wrong as hell.

Eric Farlow
Eric Farlow

I assume you are the car in your profile picture since you seem to be too scared to post your actual face behind all this bigotry you espouse.

Brian Conley
Brian Conley

Receiving food stamps is a gift from the American taxpayer to the person who receives it. It is the responsibility of all parties involved to act responsibly, or social aid such as food stamps will be voted away by the disenfranchised citizens.

Ryan Paluczak
Ryan Paluczak

Starting to get off topic, but thank you. I don't think people realize how simple the equation is. This person is trained to be a warrior, suffers all sorts of trauma, and has to live as a caged animal the rest of his/her life. It's really not hard to understand why many vets are homeless/unemployed... It's not because they are all bad people, as some like to think.

Terri Spring
Terri Spring

And this is 1 guy....now you understand why we are broke!

Jason M Parker
Jason M Parker

Here is a novel idea. Require ID w use of food card. And secret shop all small stores like this one.

Eric Farlow
Eric Farlow

'liberal fraud'. must suck knowingly acquiescing to a shitty this v. that paradigm sold by the rich.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

lmao. ya… they do like 1 story every 6 months that shows liberal fraud and suddenly eric thinks they are fox news.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

"Billionaires receive more resources and benefits from the government than all the poor people in the world combined. " = prove it.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

because "what difference does it make?" - mrs. clinton

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Why are people blaming this on the customer when it was the STORE'S fault?? I can't even get /toilet paper/ (a necessity, don't you think?) on my food stamps at a REPUTABLE store like Schnucks! It's not like the customer told the shop to ignore the laws governing what one can get on food stamps. The customer's a dumbass, but he did not force the store to take his stamps for cigarettes. The store did that on their own and should be the SOLE ones to blame.

Christopher James Dickmeyer
Christopher James Dickmeyer

Pappy Murphy's accepts them now...I thought they were intended for grocery stores, not fast food joints. And certainly not non-related food items.

Daniel Stout
Daniel Stout

I just hope that every one complaining about this uses all of their resources in ways that the rest of society would find acceptable.

Eric Farlow
Eric Farlow

Last time I checked, the RFT was for entertainment -- not incindiary neoconservative red herrings.

Isabelle Jean
Isabelle Jean

Donald Brooksher just another example of abusing good stamps

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

George- do you qualify or receive social security or Medicare benefits? Just curious due to your age. Do you feel that is another "handout" for your so called "bros and sistas?" Any fraud in either of those government programs? Are those programs just for African Americans?

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

Only one person commented on the bad behavior of the shop owner. Immediate reaction to blame those on SNAP and assistance. Sad sad sad.

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

You're welcome. Blatant ignorance can only be fixed through knowledge. Best of luck and love to you and your children :-)

Itsjustus Robinson
Itsjustus Robinson

Thank you Kelle Deyne. I feel like if you get any assistance from the state of Missouri, then you use it for the purpose it is to be used for. Like child support, you got mothers and father receiving it and are not using it to benefit the child(ren).

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

I do not receive snap or assistance- but I will fight for anyone who needs it. I'm with you itsjustus. Many ignorant people out there who have no clue how important it is.

Itsjustus Robinson
Itsjustus Robinson

Its shit like this that irks the shit out of me. I receive stamp monthly and I feed my child with those stamps. You will never catch me buying things like that.

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

Not all veterans are homeless and starving. Part of the problem with employment after enlistment-Michelle and Janey- is they enter into service with only a high school diploma, experience trauma and have skill set that is not conducive to a civilian career. This is why so many veterans come out with difficulty finding employment and needing food assistance and housing. Alcoholism and drug abuse along with improper mental health services attribute to the problem.

Michelle Sheppard
Michelle Sheppard

Exactly Janey Schallert.....this country has everything backwards:(

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

The fact remains- people do things for profit. Check out the statistics on Medicare and Medicaid fraud. It's committed by doctors. Post a article on that!

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

Disgusted that so many of you are shaming the poor. Do you even know the rates of food assistance are higher in rural areas? In the southern states? RFT- please get some decent reporters. A complete fact reference of food stamp fraud is ethical journalism.

Ryan Masters
Ryan Masters

Food stamps should be for disabled people ONLY.

Kelle Deyne
Kelle Deyne

Same thing happens is rural areas! Don't be fools and think it only happens in the "inner cities".

Kathryn Bense
Kathryn Bense

And just how do you thing all the small markets in poor communities survived? This guy just got caught - so many more out there !

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