CLEVELAND — A Westlake man is facing several federal charges after he allegedly accepted food stamps at several local gas stations in which he owned and laundered the profits to illegally obtain firearms and run an unregulated slaughterhouse from his home, which polluted a nearby stream with animal blood, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Amin M. Salem, 59, of Westlake, is charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money, one count of engaging in real estate transactions using laundered funds, one count of making unpermitted discharges into a waterway, one count of distribution of adulterated, misbranded or uninspected meat and one count of being a felon in possession of firearms.
According to federal prosecutors, Salem secretly owned several Cleveland-area gas stations:
· Henry’s Marathon at 3106 Fulton Road
· Gas Way at 10606 Bellaire Road
· Turney Sunoco at 6009 Turney Road in Garfield Heights
· Harvard Gas USA at 7020 Harvard Ave
· Bellaire Gas USA at 3934 West 117th Street
· Rapid Stop at 1712 East 55th Street
· Memphis Shell at 7210 Memphis Ave.
Salem, who was prohibited from owning stores that processed EBT transactions because of previous convictions for food stamp fraud and other related crimes, had the terminals used to accept EBT cards in his son’s name, 32-year-old Mohamed Salem.
The gas station terminals were used by the Salems to process more than $2.7 million in fraudulent SNAP transactions between 2010 to 2016.
Between 2015-2016, Amin allegedly slaughtered lambs and goats on his property on Stang Road. He sold the meat, which was not inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
From the slaughtering of the animals, he also caused the discharge of blood and other bodily fluids to flow into Engle Ditch, which flows into the Black River and eventually Lake Erie.
His son sold the meat illegally slaughtered at his father's farm and allowed people to pay for the meat using food stamps, which is a violation of SNAP’s rules and regulations.
Money from the illegal meat sales and food stamp transactions was deposited into the gas station accounts, which were then sent to accounts controlled by the Salems, the release says.
Mohamed Salem is charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money, one count of engaging in real estate transactions using laundered money and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods for his sale of counterfeit clothing and apparel, according to authorities.
The Salems owned the Rapid Stop gas station at East 55th Street with 55-year-old Zahran al-Qadan.
It was at this gas station that al-Qadan used checks from his bakery business to purchase illegally slaughtered meat and had the checks be processed through gas station bank accounts, so it appeared those transactions were for gasoline, according to authorities. Al-Qadan, who was indicted on one count of conspiracy to launder money, also paid for meat using EBT cards from customers who allowed him to keep their cards in his possession.
The Salems used the fraudulent funds to pay for lots in North Olmsted, the release states.
Prosecutors are looking to forfeit properties owned by the Salems at Stang Road and West Ridge Road in Elyria.