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Georgia convenience store owner pleads guilty in $6.5 million food stamp fraud

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Federal prosecutors say a metro Atlanta convenience store owner has pleaded guilty in a $6.5 million food stamp fraud scheme.

Authorities say 49-year-old Tessema Lulseged of Decatur pleaded guilty to allowing customers exchange food stamp benefits at Big T Supermarket for cash.

Prosecutors say Lulseged allowed customers to illegally exchange their benefits for cash between January 2009 and April 2014. Officials say food stamp recipients were paid 60 cents for every dollar's worth of benefits they sold, and were required to buy at least $10 of eligible food stamp goods from his store.

Federal officials say Lulseged's home in Gray and his store in Decatur were both seized by the government as proceeds of fraud and money laundering.

Lulseged's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 22.

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