Welfare fraud case
STATEWIDE (WGME) - A Portland business owner is going to jail next month for stealing tens of thousands of dollars of welfare benefits. Dafle Ali pleaded guilty to lying on applications to get food stamps, housing help, and medicaid all while making a six-figure salary. CBS 13 News uncovered the case was part of much bigger federal investigation and a circle of fraud that cost taxpayers a lot of money.
According to court documents, the investigation goes back almost six years with Mohamed Abdi, his business partner Dafle Ali, and their company Home Health Care Solutions right at the center. The company is a personal care agency provider for MaineCare.
The FBI and other federal investigators started looking into the business after getting a tip that Home Health Care Solutions and its clients were committing widespread fraud. Court documents show the allegations: "There are people who are not sick at all. There is some Somalis who are not doing any services to the fake clients but they share the check."
"Certain people who didn't tell the truth about the service they were getting," HHCS President Mohamed Abdi said.
Abdi agreed to an interview with us saying his reputation has been tainted by some bad employees and clients.
"We do legitimate business here," he said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland didn't have enough evidence to move forward with parts of the investigation but kept pursuing the case against Dafle Ali.
"It was part of a larger investigation they were looking at. He was one of several we prosecuted out of that investigation," Assistant U.S. Attorney James Chapman said.
Ali's now pleaded guilty to stealing more than $46,000 in welfare benefits.
"He was making over $100,000 a year as an owner of this company. It's an example of people trying to cheat the system. When you make $100,000 a year you shouldn't be on public assistance," Chapman said.
We connected the court document dots to show the same six year investigation also led to convictions in 2010 against Ahmed Guled and Dahabo Osman. They're paying back more than $400,000 for health care fraud. Documents say Guled acted as a patient while his sister, Dahabo Osman, was getting a check from Home Health Care Solutions to take care of him.
"They investigated those people; those people used to be our caregivers," Abdi said.
The pair also got checks through Decent Home Care in Lewiston. The former executive director of that health care company, Mohdi Ali, is facing years in prison for immigration and fraud charges. It's the kind of fraud Commissioner Mary Mayhew of the Department of Health and Human Services says they're working to fight before it happens.
"It makes me cringe, and it's troubling to the governor when we know we have people on wait lists in need of services," Mayhew said.
Commissioner Mayhew says DHHS has hired eight more fraud investigators and is working to get more sophisticated systems that are being used in other states.
Dafle Ali will start his two month jail sentence in two weeks and has to pay back the money he stole.
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