By Aaron Besecker
NEWS STAFF REPORTER
City Hall is taking steps toward revoking the license of a Lovejoy corner store that neighbors say is a magnet for crime and whose operator is being held on $2 million bail on food stamp fraud and burglary charges.
City permit officials are set to conduct an administrative hearing at 1 p.m. in City Hall as they pursue the revocation of the IGA Community Express Mart’s license.
Ahmed Alshami, 37, and his family operate the store at Ludington and Davey streets in Lovejoy. He has been accused of buying benefit cards from customers at pennies on the dollar and using the proceeds to stock his store, was jailed on the unusually high bail after his arraignment Tuesday.
However, the city was already pursuing 10 administrative charges against the store, said Lou Petrucci, assistant director of Permit & Inspection Services for the city.
Thursday afternoon’s hearing, which was postponed from 10 a.m., is scheduled to be held in Room 325 in City Hall, but may be moved to a larger room depending on the number of speakers. The meeting is open to the public but not open to public comments – only individuals summoned by attorneys for either side will be allowed to make statements, said Petrucci, who will serve as the hearing officer.
Alshami was arraigned on charges from two indictments. In addition to the charges of second-degree criminal possession of public benefit cards, misuse of food stamps and criminal use of a public benefit card, he also has been accused of third-degree burglary. He allegedly broke into an unoccupied apartment near his store in March and stripped the home’s kitchen cabinets, baseboard heating units and hot water tank, according to prosecutors.
The hearing will consider the 10 charges already brought, not the ones stemming from the two recent indictments, Petrucci said.