Two Five Towns residents were among 11 people charged by the Nassau County District Attorney with stealing more than a combined $413,000 in undeserved taxpayer-funded public assistance benefits by lying about their income and employment status.
Abed Canales, 34, of Inwood, and Nirmal Singh, 42, of Woodmere were arrested on Nov. 8 and Nov. 27, respectively. Canales allegedly stole $42,000 in Medicaid benefits by claiming a monthly household income of between $1,500 and $1,733. However, the investigation uncovered that he owned two properties in Great Neck and had annual bank deposits of more than $60,000 during the fraud period, which was between December 2004 and March 2009.
Canales was charged with welfare fraud in the third-degree, grand larceny in the third-degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first-degree. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. His next court date is Feb. 19.
Singh allegedly stole $20,000 in undeserved Medicaid benefits by under reporting his income and claiming to be an employee of the Mediterranean Grill Kebab restaurant in Westbury. He is actually the owner. Singh was charged with welfare fraud in the third-degree and grand larceny in the third-degree. He also faces up to seven years if convicted. His next court date is Dec. 19.
The sweep that caught nine other individuals was the result of joint investigations by the DA’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit and the county’s Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit.
“Public assistance programs are designed to help our communities’ most vulnerable members and those who defraud the system are stealing from every taxpayer,” said Nassau county DA Kathleen Rice, who said that her office will seek full restitution from the defendants.
The Public Assistance Fraud unit has obtained 15 felony convictions, 13 misdemeanor convictions and recovered $1,199,212.60 in taxpayer money, according to the DA’s office.
Also arrested were Bharat Kumar, 67, and Raksha Bhatt, 56, both of Oceanside. They allegedly stole more than $78,000. Qayyum Akhtar, 42, and Sarfaz Ahmed, 48, both of Franklin Square. The couple allegedly sole more than $74,000.
Mohammad Afzal, 54, of Jericho, allegedly stole more than $59,000. Rosa Martinez, 49, of Bethpage, allegedly stole more than $54,000. Louis Gossert, 52, of Merrick, allegedly stole more than $42,000. Masoud Partieli, 52 and Mojgan Talasaza 42, both of Great Neck. The couple allegedly stole more than $40,000.