Officials demolish Huntington convenience store - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Officials demolish Huntington convenience store

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Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's office Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's office
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A Huntington convenience described as a "long-time magnet for crime and illegal drug activity" was demolished Dec. 5, three months after its owner pleaded guilty to defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

As part of his plea, Abderahamane Eloirzazi, 34, forfeited his store -- the All-In-One convenience store -- to the city of Huntington, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office.

Federal prosecutors say from June 2010 to Februray 2012, Eloirzazi along with Huntington residents Stephanie Pauley, 35, and Cynthia Gibson, 40, participated in the EBT card-swiping scheme.

Eloirzazi admitted to fraudulently swiping certain recipients' cards, charging a dollar amount against the value of the card. He also gave recipients 50-65 cents on the dollar in cash or ineligible items.

Eloirzazi could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 in Huntington.

Pauley and Gibson, who were clerks at the former convenience store, both admitted they each redeemed a portion of approximately $127,000 in SNAP benefits, according to a past news release.

Both pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud.

According to court documents, Gibson was sentenced to three years probation and was ordered to pay $19,350 to the Department of Agriculture, for which she will be jointly and severally responsible with the other co-defendants.

Pauley was sentenced to three months of community correction and six months of home confinement.

"The All-In-One store wasn't just a crooked business, it was a dangerous blight on this city," Goodwin said in the news release. "As I said when we charged the store's owner, eliminating a criminal stronghold like this can fundamentally change the character of a neighborhood. By tearing it down and putting the land in city hands, we've taken a step toward an even safer Huntington and a brighter future for Fairfield."

"When the Governor, General Hoyer and I were here three months ago, the most recent effort was just getting started: removing broken down abandoned structures that were more than eyesores--they were magnets for crime. Through that project, 54 such structures were removed," Goodwin added.