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

May 7, 2014 at 7:00 am
click to enlarge Gravois Discount Smokes, also known as Abes Gravois Discount. - Google Maps
Google Maps
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 [email protected].