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Man pleads guilty for Waterbury food stamp fraud

WATERBURY  — A New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges for letting customers on food stamps sell their benefits for cash and buy restricted items at a Connecticut store.

Federal authorities say at the WB Trade Fair Grocery in Waterbury, 50-year-old Muhammad Shahbaz and other employees allowed customers to purchase restricted items like cigarettes and sold them at double the normal price.

According to a release, during a normal year, the store could normally receive $120,000 to $240,000 per year in food stamp benefits. During 18 months starting in 2015, redemptions totaled $3.2 million.

Three other store employees have pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud. Shahbaz, of Jersey City, New Jersey, will be sentenced by a federal judge in October. He faces up to five years in prison.

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