Financial crimes in Englewood
Left to right: Mohammed Abuzir, Walid Mohammed, and Imad Qatanani. (Chicago Police Department photos / November 30, 2012)
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The city of Chicago closed five grocery stores and police arrested three suburban men accused of exchanging Link card welfare benefits for cash, the police department announced early Friday morning.
Walid Mohamed of Palos Hills, Imad Qatanani of Burbank and Mohammed Abuzir of Bridgeview are each expected in bond court later today, charged with being organizers of a criminal financial crime enterprise.
The cards function as debit cards for Illinois residents eligible for "cash assistance or ... food stamps," according to the state Department of Human Services.
Police were tipped to the three in June and opened an investigation alongside the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Police searched safety deposit boxes, bank accounts and seized two guns and $100,000 between Mohammed, 50, Qatanani, 37 and Abuzir, 49.
The stores closed were in the Gresham and Englewood neighborhoods on the South Side: Ashland Avenue south of Garfield Boulevard, Garfield Boulevard west of Ashland Avenue, the 6500 block of South Ashland Avenue, the 8500 block of South Ashland Avenue, and the 6800 block of South Damen Avenue.