- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Bridgeport grocer has been charged with buying food stamps from customers and using the money to buy bulk merchandise.

Aslam Khawaja tells the Connecticut Post (https://bit.ly/1gCPnZD ) he was trying to help poor people in the community.

He was charged Wednesday with larceny by defrauding a public community, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Authorities say that from March through December 2013 Khawaja paid cash to 128 customers for their food stamp benefits at 50 cents to a dollar of benefit. He’s accused of using the benefits to buy $45,000 in bulk merchandise, including 1,200 cases of Red Bull energy drinks he sold at his store.

Undercover officers patronized the store several times with food stamp cards.

Khawaja posted $100,000 bond and is due to be arraigned April 22.

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Information from: Connecticut Post, https://www.connpost.com

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