One of the men indicted on charges of public assistance fraud at a Portland halal market was arrested Wednesday for violating his bail conditions as he awaited trial, court records show.

Abdulkareem Daham, then 21, was indicted by a federal grand jury in April and charged with perpetrating a scheme to defraud the government of tens of thousands of dollars through the store’s status as a federally approved vendor for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC.

As part of his conditions of remaining free on bail before trial, Daham was ordered not to ingest marijuana, even if he was doing so under the direction of a doctor. But according to court papers, Daham signed statements on six occasions from September to December saying he had smoked marijuana, and a subsequent drug test showed marijuana was present in his system.

Ali Ratib Daham, who ran the Ahram Halal Market on Forest Avenue in Portland, and his brother Abdulkareem Daham, who worked at the store, were arrested after Maine DHHS investigators noticed the business was processing an unusually high volume of food stamp benefits. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Daham, of Westbrook, also failed to attend weekly counseling sessions required by his probation officer, court records say. A warrant for his arrest was issued Dec. 21.

Daham’s co-defendant and brother, Ali Ratib Daham, also of Westbrook, pleaded guilty in November to three counts – conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, money laundering and theft of government funds – and is awaiting sentencing. He also agreed to forfeit about $80,000 in cash that was seized last year and to pay full restitution of $1.4 million.

The indictments followed an investigation into transactions at a business run by Ali Daham, the Ahram Halal Market on Forest Avenue, near Woodfords Corner.

The market’s inventory included breads, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and canned goods. It also sold phone cards, over-the-counter medications, household items and hookah products, and was popular with immigrants.

Investigators with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services became suspicious when they noticed Daham’s business was processing an unusually high volume of SNAP food stamp benefits. The average food stamp transaction was $85, much higher than at the Hannaford supermarket on Forest Avenue, a much bigger store that averaged only $33 per transaction during the period in question.

DHHS was assisted in the investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Unit.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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