The owner of Lawrenceville, Ga. based Salwa Foods was sentenced to 12 months and one day in a federal prison on charges of wire fraud.
Mushtaq “Mike” Mistry, 47, a Lawrenceville resident, submitted false claims to the United States Department of Agriculture totaling more than $300,000. He plead guilty to the charges in September.
Salwa Foods is a halal frozen food company headquartered in Lawrenceville.
According to United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Mistry submitted fictitious claims to the USDA's Market Access Program (MAP) requested to be reimbursed for the cost of television advertising in Dubai for the company from April 2007 to August 2009. In Georgia, MAP is run through the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA).
Mistry submitted fake documentation, including invoices and checks to the USDA for advertising for Salwa Foods on television networks in Dubai. The commercials were supposed to air across the United Arab Emirates. However, the documentation did not match up with any actual payments made to air ads in the Middle Eastern country.
In all, Mistry defrauded the USDA $342,500 in SUSTA payments.
“The submission of false claims to a federal agency is a serious offense,” said Donald B. Yaden, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge in a release. “Mushtaq Mistry took advantage of the very program that was designed to assist him and his business. We hope that the sentence announced today assures the American taxpayer that IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners, will devote the necessary resources to investigate these types of financial crimes.”
After completing his prison sentence, Mistry will serve three years of supervised release, six months of home confinement, and 500 hours of community service. Mistry was also ordered to repay the funds he illegally obtained.