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MARIETTA, Ga - A Marietta store owner has been sentenced to 33 months in prison for stealing more than a half-million of your tax dollars.

Shamsha Vasaya admitted in federal court to accepting federally funded EBT cards for items like beer, cigarettes, and gasoline. Federal investigators say she sold the items at an inflated price and her store pocketed the extra cash.

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The case first came to the attention of Marietta Police in 2009.

"We got a tip from a citizen that they had witnessed illegal transactions," said Marietta Police Officer David Baldwin.

The transactions are similar to the ones uncovered in an extensive 11Alive investigation. 11Alive's CIA team uncovered evidence that federal tax dollars that are supposed to help needy families were instead spent at liquor stores, casinos, even strip clubs. The 11Alive investigation found that hundreds of thousands of dollars credited to federally funded EBT cards were improperly spent.

In 2009, a state employee noticed a sign in front of Shamsha Vasaya's Marietta Chevron stating that EBT cards could be used to purchase tobacco and beer at the store. Under federal law, those items are ineligible for purchase using EBT cards.

According to federal prosecutors, owner Shamsha Vasaya was warned the sales were improper. A
A lengthy investigation proved the sales didn't stop.

Federal investigators say the store accepted federally funded EBT cards to pay for beer, tobacco, and gasoline, all sold at an inflated price. Prosecutors say Vasaya's store pocketed the extra cash.

Federal documents say the store charged fifty cents on the dollar to allow customers to use credit on those EBT cards to get cash.

"They were getting cash for what was put on the books as an actual purchase," said Officer Baldwin.

Shamsha Vasaya admitted to it all in federal court, telling a judge she needed the money to keep her business afloat.

In addition to her time in prison, Vasaya has been ordered to pay the federal government $557,421 in restitution.

A clerk at the Chevron store called Shamash Vasaya at 11Alive's request, but Vasaya refused to speak to a reporter.

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