Lexington police accuse three of welfare fraud

Lexington police have charged three people with welfare fraud stemming from an investigation launched late last year, Lt. Scott Blakely said.

Mohammad Ryyal, Thaer Ryyal and Cossondra Freeman have been charged with multiple counts of welfare fraud for exchanging cash for food stamps, or electronic benefits transfer cards, Blakely said.

Mohammad Ryyal is charged with four counts of welfare fraud. Thaer Ryyal, Mohammad's brother, was charged with three counts of welfare fraud and possession of marijuana. Freeman was charged with two counts of welfare fraud and possession of a gun by a felon.

Mohammad, who works at Marathon Food Mart at 300 North Martin Luther King Boulevard, was taking EBT cards from homeless people and "ringing up sales on the register of the store and then removing funds from the register for his personal use," Blakely said. He said Mohammed would give the cards to his brother, who would use them to buy supplies for his store.

Thaer is co-owner of the BP gas station on Four Mile Road in Richmond.

Police said Freeman was running a similar operation at the S & C Market and Deli, 368 Ohio Street. Police did not disclose how much money was used or how many people had exchanged their cards for money. The investigation is ongoing.