Man convicted of food stamp fraud violates probation

LISBON – A man originally convicted for his involvement in a food stamp fraud case was found in violation of his probation late last week in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

Nathaniel D. Carter, 31, McKinnon Avenue, East Liverpool, had his probation continued by Judge Scott Washam, but will be expected to serve a term of up to six months in a community correctional facility.

According to Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble, while in court Carter questioned any chance of prison time, stating he believed he could not be sent to prison on a first felony conviction. The confusion may be due to current Ohio law, which mandates probation for first-time non-violent charges, which are fourth or fifth degree felonies.

Carter had pleaded guilty in November 2012 to food stamp fraud, a fifth degree felony. He was placed on probation on Jan. 24, 2013.

His only other convictions are misdemeanors, a lengthy record which includes domestic violence, theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal trespassing, obstructing official business and underage consumption. The list was cited in court by Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart prior to sentencing on the probation violation.

Carter’s conviction of food stamp fraud had followed an 2011 investigation by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which had determined Carter used his girlfriend Velinda Cunningham’s EBT (food stamp) cards, and traded them to the owner of Phillies Quick Stop in Newell, W.Va., Hassan Alhawshabi. Carter and Alhawshabi went to the Calcutta Walmart, where Alhawshabi used the card to purchase merchandise to stock his own store.

Alhawshabi was convicted of three counts of food stamp fraud and sentenced to probation in February 2013. Cunningham, the mother of several children, was convicted of two counts of food stamp fraud and sentenced to probation in March 2013.

Carter’s probation officer reportedly found he failed four drug tests in April and May of 2013, showing use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and benzodiazepines. When the probation officer ordered him to attend drug treatment, he failed to follow through. He also failed to report to his probation officer four times in 2013 or notify them of his whereabouts.