Decatur men gets prison for SNAP scheme

A fugitive from Decatur was sentenced to federal prison time after being captured by authorities when trying to enter Istanbul, Turkey with a fake Mexican passport.

Uttam Halder, a 43-year-old from Decatur, pleaded guilty in September to a series of charges stemming from a $10 million scheme to purchase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from low-income recipients.

A news release from from U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia stated on March 19 that Hadler was sentenced to 68 months of incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $10,340,986.

“The federal government trusted Halder to safeguard precious SNAP funds designed to alleviate hunger but he abused that trust to fuel his greed by profiting from a multimillion-dollar scheme to fraudulently redeem SNAP benefits,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan

His co-conspirator, Paltu Roy, 51, of Stone Mountain, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Roy was sentenced on April 20, 2022, to three years and one month in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $3,071,235 in restitution to the USDA.

According to Buchanan, the charges, and other information presented in court, Halder owned and operated a small meat market in Atlanta called Big Daddy’s Discount Meat. He enrolled Big Daddy’s as a retailer for the USDA’s SNAP in 2014.

Halder’s store was in Fulton County, but between 2015 and 2020, Halder loaned his EBT terminals to Food World in DeKalb and Big Brother Mini Supermarket in Fulton. These loans were against SNAP rules.

The news release states that Roy—the operator of Big Brother Mini Supermarket and Food World—agreed to share profits with Halder from Big Daddy’s terminals used illegally at those stores. Both stores made cash payments to customers in return for redeeming their SNAP benefits at the rate of roughly 50 cents on the dollar, according to the news release.

Buchanan’s office reported that Big Daddy’s terminals collected more than $10 million in fraudulent redemptions of SNAP benefits during those six years and that Halder shared a substantial portion of the profits.

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