Fire reported at Golden Ring Middle School

Golden Ring Middle FireCrews are on the scene of a Thursday evening fire at a school in Rosedale.

At just after 5:30 p.m., firefighters responded to Golden Ring Middle School, located in the 6700 block of Kenwood Avenue.

Preliminary reports indicate that the air conditioning unit on the roof of the school is on fire.  Flames were seen shooting from the roof.

There has been no word on any injuries.

Motorists should use caution in the area.

Police investigating local assault, burglaries, robberies

Police LightsPolice are investigating several local crimes that have been reported over the past week.

Between noon on Monday, May 22, and 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, an individual gained entry to a residence in the 8100 block of Pulaski Highway in Rosedale (21237) by forcing open a basement door. Once inside, the suspect stole miscellaneous items before fleeing the scene.

Between 1 p.m. on Friday, May 26, and 4 p.m. on Monday, May 29, an individual entered a residence along Dunhaven Place in Nottingham (21236) by shattering the rear window glass. Once inside, the suspect stole a game system, jewelry, video games and miscellaneous items.

Sometime between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, an individual entered a residence along Glendower Court in Rosedale (21237), ransacked the residence, and stole clothing.

At about 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, three individuals assaulted a woman on Cartwright Court in Rosedale (21237). The suspects then stole the woman’s cell phone and fled the scene.

At about 10:55 p.m. on Tuesday, four individuals, one of whom was armed, approached a man who was walking in the 8700 block of Philadelphia Road in Rosedale (21237). The suspects demanded the man’s property, then fled the scene on foot.

At just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, four individuals punched a juvenile along Warren Road in Essex (21221). The suspects stole the juvenile’s cell phone, then fled the scene.

At 12:35 a.m. on Wednesday morning, May 31, an individual used a brick to shatter the front glass window of the Family Dollar store located in the 1700 block of Chesaco Avenue in Rosedale (21237).

At just before 1 a.m. on Wednesday, two individuals broke the glass door to the Niki Food Mart, located in the 6300 block of Kenwood Avenue in Rosedale (21237), to gain entry. One suspect entered the store and stole multiple tobacco items. Both suspects then fled the scene.

Rosedale liquor store robbed at gunpoint

robberyPolice are investigating after a Rosedale liquor store was robbed at gunpoint over the weekend.

At just after 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, a man entered Rosedale Discount Liquors, located in the 6400 block of Kenwood Avenue, 21237, and approached the register.

The mam displayed a handgun and demanded that the clerk give him money.

The suspect then fled the scene.

No one was injured in the incident.

Nottingham man sentenced to prison for food stamp fraud

FraudBaltimore, Maryland – On Monday, a U.S. District Judge sentenced Muhammad Sarmad, 41, of Nottingham, to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to illegally redeem food stamp benefits in exchange for cash.

At the sentencing, the judge also ordered that Sarmad pay restitution of $3,550,662.

“The food stamp program can be exploited by criminals like Muhammad Sarmad, who take advantage of the fact that the Department of Agriculture trusts retailers to actually provide food in return for taxpayer money,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

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.

Sarmad, co-defendant Mohammad Irfan, and other family members owned and/or operated 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.

All of the stores were authorized to accept SNAP, except the M&A Mart.

According to their plea agreements, from October 2010 through at least July 2016, Sarmad, Irfan, and their co-conspirators exchanged EBT benefits for cash, in violation of the food stamp program rules. Sarmad, Irfan, and their co-conspirators 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. Since the M&A Mart was not authorized to accept SNAP, Sarmad or a co-conspirator would call one of the other stores to run the transaction at the other store and then hand out the cash at M&A Mart.

Sarmad, Irfan and their co-conspirators received instruction regarding the requirements and regulations of the food stamp program, including 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. Sarmad admitted that from October 2010 through August 2016, Sarmad and his co-conspirators obtained more than $3.5 million in payments for food sales that never occurred or were substantially inflated.

In addition to Sarmad and Irfan, nine other retail store operators have pleaded guilty to their roles in similar schemes to illegally redeem food stamp benefits in exchange for cash, and are awaiting sentencing. Three other defendants are scheduled to go to trial later this year.

Mohamad Irfan, 59, of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and food stamp fraud, and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Judge Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Irfan on May 9, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. Irfan is detained pending sentencing.