Store owner sentenced to 15 months in prison for food stamp fraud

Co-owners of Quick N EZ also entered guilty pleas

One of three Milwaukee residents charged in a $1.2 million food stamp fraud scheme has been sentenced to 15 months in prison, according to federal court records.

Kanwar Gill was charged in November 2016 with three counts of wire fraud, each carrying a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He entered a guilty plea in May and federal sentencing guidelines called for 27 to 33 months in prison.

Prosecutors sought an 18 month prison sentence. According to the plea agreement, Gill, his daughter Raviinder Gill and fellow co-owner George Nance, would exchange benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children programs for cash at a discounted rate at the Quick N EZ Super Market they owned at 3076 N. 27th St. in Milwaukee. They would then be reimbursed by the programs for the full value of the benefits.

According to court records the trio improperly received $1,245,529 in payments between 2013 and 2015.

Raviinder Gill and Nance were both charged with wire fraud as well and entered guilty pleas. Nance was sentenced earlier this month but his records are sealed. The younger Gill has a sentencing scheduled for Sept. 27.

U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin Judge J.P. Stadtmueller ordered the Gills to pay restitution for the improper benefits and ordered Kanwar to serve three years of supervised release.

Kanwar’s attorneys argued prison was not necessary for the sentence, arguing Gill was a low risk to reoffend and his numerous health issues would exacerbate “the already steep costs of incarceration.”

John Campion and Gabriela Leija of Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin Inc. also described the scheme as “a hapless criminal plan that ensured the attention of law enforcement.”

“They unlawfully obtained benefits in excess of a million dollars. And they did so often in a brazen and incautious manner befitting their criminal naiveté,” Campion and Leija wrote.

Compared to similar size stores in the county, the Gills’ store “far exceeded” the average for SNAP redemptions “and repeatedly claimed reimbursement for the sale of WIC food items that exceeded the store’s inventory of those food items.”

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.