Baltimore County offices and facilities closed for Memorial Day holiday

Baltimore CountyBaltimore County government offices, and the District and Circuit Courts will be closed on Monday, May 29 in recognition of the Memorial Day holiday.  Health Department clinics, Animal Services and senior centers will be closed and CountyRide vans will not operate. All branches of the Baltimore County Public Library will be closed on Monday, May 29 and parking meters are free on the holiday.

No Trash, Recycling or Yard Materials Collection on May 29; Drop-Off Centers Closed

Baltimore County residents whose trash or yard materials would normally have been collected on Monday, May 29 should set these materials out on Monday night for collection on Tuesday, May 30.  Residents whose single stream recyclables would normally have been collected on Monday, May 29 are asked to hold these recyclables until the next scheduled recycling collection day (Monday, June 5).

Collections of all types may occur later than usual during the week following Memorial Day.  If a collection does not occur on the scheduled day during this period of time, materials should be left out until collection occurs.

Trash and recycling drop-off centers, as well as County offices, will be closed onMonday, May 29.  Drop-off centers will be open with normal hours on Friday, May 26, and Saturday, May 27.  County offices and drop-off facilities will reopen on Tuesday, May 30.

For more information, residents should visit the Bureau of Solid Waste Management’s website or call 410-887-2000.

Crossing guards needed in Baltimore County

Crossing GuardThe Baltimore County Police Department needs men and women to serve as school crossing guards.

There is an increase in the demand throughout the entire county, but due to road development and traffic concerns, the need is especially great in the central sections of Baltimore County.

If you have been thinking of a way to become more involved in your community while getting paid to do so, this is the time to act.

Parents, grandparents, college students or anyone who wants to help insure the safety of children to and from school are encouraged to apply. The pay is $12.78 per hour and the time commitment is only two hours daily, Monday through Friday. When schools have off due to inclement weather, so do you, without loss of pay. Additionally, you incur paid leave as you gain years of experience. You may receive paid national and state holidays from September through June. You will be given your equipment and uniforms free of charge.

Those wishing to apply to the Baltimore County Police Department for the position of crossing guard need to be at least 18 years old. All applicants will undergo a background check, including fingerprinting.

Application Deadline is June 2

This is the perfect part-time job for stay-at-home parents, retirees and those with a little extra time in the morning and afternoon. The best part of the job is the satisfaction of knowing that you play a major role in keeping the children in your neighborhood safe in their travels.

The deadline to apply is June 2nd. Additional information about the School Guard Team and how to apply to become a Baltimore County crossing guard are available online.

Baltimore County retailers sentenced to prison for food stamp fraud

FraudTwo Baltimore-area men have been sentenced to prison in connection with food stamp fraud.

In August 2016, a federal grand jury returned nine indictments charging 14 retail store operators in the greater Baltimore area with food stamp fraud and wire fraud in connection with obtaining over $16 million from the United States Department of Agriculture by illegally trading food stamp benefits for cash.

Twelve of the fourteen charged defendants have pleaded guilty, and two defendants were sentenced this week to federal prison.

On Friday, a judge sentenced Mohammad Shafiq, 51, of Baltimore, to 46 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The judge also ordered Shafiq to pay restitution in the amount of $3,712,353.00.

In a separate sentencing hearing held on Thursday, the same judge sentenced Mohammad Irfan, 59, of Baltimore County, 51 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The judge also ordered Irfan to pay restitution in the amount of $3,550,662.00.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as the Food Stamp Program, is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), together with state agencies. The program funds low-income individuals to allow them to obtain a more nutritious diet. In Maryland, the program provides eligible individuals with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card called the Independence Card, which operates like a debit card. Recipients obtain EBT cards through the state Department of Human Resources, then use the EBT card to purchase approved food items from participating retailers.

Retailers must apply to and be approved by FNS to participate in the program. Authorized retailers use a point-of-sale terminal that checks the EBT card information and deducts the cash value of the purchase from the customer’s SNAP benefit balance. SNAP reimbursements are paid to retailers through electronic funds transfers. Retailers must bill the government only in return for providing approved food items.

Although charged in separate and unrelated schemes, Shafiq and Irfan engaged in similar conduct to defraud the SNAP program.

According to two separate plea agreements, from October 2010 through at least July 2016, Shafiq, Irfan and co-conspirators exchanged EBT benefits for cash, in violation of the food stamp program rules. They typically paid half the value of the EBT benefits in cash. To avoid detection, they often debited the funds from the card in multiple transactions over a period of hours or days, or called a different store where the transaction was processed manually.

Shafiq and Irfan owned and/or operated stores in the Baltimore area that were authorized to accept SNAP. The defendants received instruction regarding the requirements and regulations of the food stamp program and were aware that only eligible food items could be exchanged for EBT benefits and that a retailer may never exchange EBT benefits for cash or non-food items.

Shafiq and his family members owned and operated four stores: Quick Stop Convenience Store, 237 N. Patterson Park Avenue; New York Food Mart, 1201 N. Patterson Park Avenue; and Barclay Food Mart, 2454 Barclay Street, all in Baltimore; and Shafiq Corporation, 6929 Holabird Avenue, in Dundalk, Maryland. From October 2010 through July 2016, Shafiq himself, and by and through his family members obtained more than $3.7 million in payments for food sales that never occurred or were substantially inflated.

Irfan and his family members also owned and/or operated four stores: New Sherwood Market, 6324 Sherwood Road in Northwood, Maryland; Martin Mart, 1504 Martin Boulevard in Middle River, Maryland; Rosedale Mart, 6326 Kenwood Avenue in Rosedale, Maryland; and M&A Mart 7400-A Belair Road in Baltimore. From October 2010 through August 2016, Irfan and his co-conspirators obtained more than $3.5 million in payments for food sales that never occurred or were substantially inflated.

Two retail store operators have previously been sentenced to federal prison. On March 27, 2017, Muhammad Sarmad was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,550,662. On April 27, 2017, Shaheen Tasewar Hussain was sentenced to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $778,183.00.

The defendants listed below have all pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing:

Walayat Khan, 37, of Reisterstown, Maryland;
Barbara Ann Duke, 51, of Owings Mills, Maryland;
Kelym Novas Perez, 35, of Baltimore;
Jose Remedio Gonzalez Reyes, 51, of Baltimore;
Mulazam Hussain, 55, of Windsor Mill, Maryland;
Alia Shaheen, 25, of Baltimore;
Mahmood Hussain Shah, 58, of Catonsville, Maryland;
Muhammad Rafiq, 32, of Reisterstown;
Rizwan Pervez, 39, of Essex, Maryland; and
Kassem Mohammad Hafeed, a/k/a Kassam Mohammad Hafeed, 51, Baltimore

‘Shop and Eat to the Beat’ all summer long at The Avenue at White Marsh

The Avenue Shop Eat BeatNow that construction on the new plaza is complete, with a grand opening scheduled for Saturday, The Avenue at White Marsh is relaunching its summer concert series for 2017.

“THE AVENUE LIVE! Shop and Eat to the Beat” will take place every Friday and Saturday from 7:00  to 9:00 p.m.  It will stretch from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

Patrons will be able to enjoy patio dining or they can grab a bite from one of The Avenue’s many eateries.  Attendees may also bring a blanket (no chairs).

The events will feature new musical talent every week.

For the convenience of those in need of additional seating, representatives from Perry Hall High School will provide chairs (appropriate for use on the turf) and blankets for rental. A minimum donation of $2 per chair or blanket is required. All proceeds will benefit the fundraising efforts of Perry Hall High School.

Please note – rented chairs must be utilized on a designated area at the back of the turf so as not to interfere with the blanket seating space.
* Please remember… B.Y.O. is prohibited at these performances. Only food and beverages purchased from The Avenue at White Marsh restaurants and eateries are permitted in the event area. The Main Plaza (event area), is designated smoke free.

Here the 2017 concert line-up:

5/20 Unity Reggae (5 p.m.) & 8 Ohms (7 p.m.)
5/26 Nelly’s Echo (Pop Rock)
5/27 The Crawdaddies (Roots Rock, Zydeco)
6/2 Proverbs Reggae Band (Reggae)
6/3 Liquid A (Pop)
6/9 Will Hill (Rock, Ska)
6/10 Justin Trawick and the Common Good (Americana)
6/16 LVT (Alternative / Indie Rock)
6/17 King Teddy (Rockabilly, Swing)
6/23 Jah Works (Reggae)
6/24 Dublin 5 (Celtic Rock)
6/30 Swampcandy (Blues, Roots)
7/1 The Racket (Roots Rock)
7/7 Pressing Strings (Folk Rock)
7/8 Moonshine Society (R&B)
7/14 Michael Louis Band (Rock Blues)
7/15 The Crawdaddies (Roots Rock, Zydeco)
7/21 The ShamRogues (Celtic Rock)
7/22 Gold Magnolias (R&B/soul, Pop)
7/28 NOMAD (Modern Country)
7/29 Classroom Dragons (Americana)
8/4 Billy Coulter Band (Roots Rock/Pop)
8/5 Hustle Souls (Soul, Roots Rock, Funk)
8/11 Natty Beaux (Jump Blues/Swing/Rockabilly)
8/12 Proverbs Reggae Band (Reggae)
8/18 Nelly’s Echo (Pop Rock)
8/19 The Scotch Bonnets (Funky Reggae Rock)
8/25 Junkyard Saints (New Orleans Funk)
8/26 Sweet Leda (funk, soul and pop)
9/1 Barleyjuice (Celtic Rock)
9/2 Speakers of the House (funk, Rock)