NOTICE: This is an archived press release. Information contained on this page may be outdated. Please refer to our latest press releases for up-to-date information.


Post date: January 13 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Prison Term And $560k Restitution Against Long Island Convenience Store Owners For Food Stamp Fraud

Theft Included Emergency Funds Allocated To Help Feed Those Left Hungry By Hurricane Sandy

Schneiderman: Food Stamp Fraud Targets New Yorkers Who Rely On Help To Feed Their Families

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, along with U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General, announced the felony conviction of a Long Island man who admitted to stealing more than $668,000 from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program). Ravinder Parkash defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture by illegally exchanging SNAP benefits for cash and submitting fraudulent transactions for payment at his Riverhead convenience store. Parkash pleaded guilty today in Suffolk County Supreme Court before Justice John B. Collins. He faces up to four years in state prison. Also convicted today for the scheme are his wife, Prabha Rani, who will receive a jail sentence, and their corporation, Shivani Enterprises, Inc. The defendants must also pay restitution in the amount of $566,011.49 to SNAP.

“Food stamp fraud is a direct betrayal of the trust of New York taxpayers and those who must rely on this important government program to feed their families,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “In addition, our investigation in this case turned up the theft of emergency benefits that were specially allocated for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. My office will continue to work diligently to pursue those who commit benefits fraud. We will bring them to justice, and we will preserve the integrity of this important social program.”

“Our joint investigation with the New York State Attorney General’s Office has brought to justice those individuals who sought to profit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through illegal schemes,” said USDA OIG Special Agent-in-Charge William G. Squires, Jr. “Those who are involved in fraud and abuse of SNAP and other USDA programs will be aggressively pursued by the USDA, Office of Inspector General and we will continue to dedicate resources and to work with our state and local law enforcement partners in order to protect the integrity of these programs and to prosecute those who commit fraud.”

Ravinder Parkash, 60, of Riverhead, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a “C” Felony; Money Laundering in the Second Degree, a “C” Felony Misuse of Food Stamps (over $50,000), a “C” Felony; four counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, an “E” felony; and Conspiracy. Parkash will be sentenced to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison.

His wife, Prabha Rani, 59, of Riverhead, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a “D” Felony; Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, an “E” Felony; Misuse of Food Stamps (over $3,000), a “D” Felony; and Conspiracy. Rani will be sentenced to 60 days jail and five years’ probation.

Their corporation, Shivani Enterprises, Inc., located at 415 E. Main St., Riverhead, N.Y., pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a “C” Felony; 24 counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, an “E” felony; and Conspiracy. The corporation will be dissolved.

Parkash, Rani and Shivani Enterprises are jointly liable for paying restitution in the amount of $566,011.49 to SNAP.

In addition to today’s guilty pleas, 22 SNAP cardholders have pleaded guilty to Misuse of Food Stamps as part of the Attorney General’s case.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the USDA provided emergency benefits to all SNAP recipients in affected areas. Numerous SNAP recipients sold these Sandy benefits to Parkash and his wife, diverting tens of thousands of dollars from those in need.

As part of their guilty pleas, Parkash and Rani admitted that between April 2010 and May 2013, they conspired with with dozens of SNAP cardholders to process phantom SNAP transactions at their gas station and convenience store without selling any food. Parkash and Rani paid SNAP recipients 50% of the value of their SNAP benefits in cash, then charged the USDA the full value of the phony transaction and kept the difference. Parkash then laundered the proceeds of the illegal scheme through a bank account set up for New York State Lottery sales at the store.

In addition to today’s guilty pleas, 22 SNAP cardholders have pleaded guilty to Misuse of Food Stamps as part of the Attorney General’s case.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region, including Special Agents Christopher Santangelo and Angel Plaza; the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, including Investigator Thomas Liguori and Investigation Supervisor Rebecca Hodge; the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service; the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office; and the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance in this matter.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Tyler Reynolds and Rhonda Greenstein of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. The bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chiefs Meryl Lutsky and Stephanie Swenton. The civil case is being handled by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Brian Moore of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Kelly Donovan.

The Attorney General recognizes the diligent work of the OAG’s Criminal Division staff, including: Legal Support Analyst Theodore Davidson; Investigators Steve Pratt and Vincent Gisonti; Senior Investigator Dennis Maddalone; Supervising Investigator John Sullivan; and Deputy Chief Investigators John McManus and Greg Stasiuk. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.