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11 Charged in Public Assistance Fraud

Nassau DA says defendants, including a Merrick man, lied about their incomes to gain over $400,000 in undeserved benefits.

A Merrick man is one of 11 people facing up to 15 years in prison after police say they stole over $400,000 in public assistance benefits, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office.

A multi-departmental investigation uncovered that individuals had stolen a combined $413,000 in taxpayer-funded public assistance benefits while lying about their incomes and employment, Rice said. The investigation was performed by the DA's Public Assistance Fraud Unit and Nassau County Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit.

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All 11 defendants allegedly underreported their incomes to gain benefits from Medicaid, food stamps, and other taxpayer-funded programs.

“Public assistance programs are designed to help our communities’ most vulnerable members, and those who defraud the system are stealing from every taxpayer,” Rice said. “I created a Public Assistance Fraud Unit to prosecute just these kinds of cases so that our social safety net is there to lift those with true needs and to ensure those who abuse the system are caught and held accountable.”

Those charged include:

Bharat Kumar Bhatt, 67, and Raksha Bhatt, 56, both from Oceanside, allegedly stole over $78,000. They face 15 years in prison for second degree grand larceny, second degree welfare fraud, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

Qayyum Akhtar, 42, and Sarfaz Ahmed, 48, both of Franklin Square, are accused of taking more than $17,000 between 2003 and 2008. They face 15 years in prison for second degree grand larceny and second degree welfare fraud.

Mohammad Afzal, 54, of Jericho, is accused of stealing more than $59,000 and faces 15 years in prison for second degree welfare fraud, second degree grand larceny, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

Rosa Martinez, 49, of Bethpage, allegedly took more than $54,000 and failed to report owning a second home. She faces 15 years in prison for second degree welfare fraud, second degree grand larceny, and two counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

Louis Gossert, 52, of Merrick, faces seven years in prison after allegedly taking more than $42,000 in benefits from several programs. He is charged with third degree welfare fraud, third degree grand larceny, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

Abed Canales, 34, of Inwood, reportedly took more than $42,000 and failing to admit to owning two Great Neck properties. He faces seven years in prison for third degree welfare fraud, third degree grand larceny, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.

Masoud Partieli, 52, and Mojgan Talassazan, 42, both of Great Neck, allegedly stole over $40,000 in benefits. They face seven years in prison for third degree welfare fraud, third degree grand larceny, and offering a false instrument of filing in the first degree.

Nirmal Singh, 42, of Woodmere, faces up to seven years in prison after allegedly stealing $20,000, claiming he was an employee of a restaurant when he was actually the owner. He faces charges of third degree welfare fraud and third degree grand larceny.

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Story by Heather Doyle

Bev Macuk December 08, 2012 at 01:51 PM
is there no hope of repayment? several; accused own property
patrick oconnell December 08, 2012 at 08:50 PM
This goes on all opver the country
Heather Doyle (Editor) December 09, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Hi Bev. The DA didn't specify, but we'll update if they do!
js December 10, 2012 at 02:57 PM
ship them out,
Grifhunter December 10, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Why is DA Rice's kewpie doll face stuck in the array of perp pics?

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