The Brooklyn district attorney indicted eight New Yorkers yesterday for fraudulently receiving Medicaid benefits and food stamps, even as they raked in thousands of dollars and owned properties.
One even made a generous donation to a nonprofit while he was allegedly stealing from the feds.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said the defendants, who lived all over the city, fraudulently collected more than $500,000 in government benefits, starting as early as 2001. Many lied about their addresses, incomes and living situations in order to be eligible, he said.
One of the defendants, Mohammed Irshad Chaudhry, 58, allegedly collected more than $146,000 in Medicaid benefits between January 2004 and November 2011.
Prosecutors say he lied on his Medicaid applications, saying he earned about $300 a week while working at Super Punjab Auto Repair shop in Long Island City. He also claimed he was a “helper” at a Tribeca tea shop.
However, in reality Chaudhry owns both those businesses, prosecutors said, and makes $8,000 each month from them.
And while he was getting government assistance, prosecutors allege, he shopped at high-end stores like Brooks Brothers. Chaudhry had so much cash he even allegedly donated $10,000 to the nonprofit group Pakistani American Merchant Association.
Chaudhry was charged with welfare fraud, grand larceny and faces up to 15 years in prison.
Two others indicted are landlords of six properties. Prosecutors say Mehtab Qureshi, 43, and Sarfaraz Qureshi, 58, own properties in Brooklyn and upstate New York but lied about it to get $168,502 in Medicaid benefits. In a separate case, prosecutors say Unise Key, 43, concealed her job as an MTA conductor to get $6,210 in food stamps.
Living high on the hog
Prosecutors say Mohammed Chaudhry already made plenty without the government’s help:
Chaudhry earns up to $8,000 each month from a tea shop and auto repair business he owns, said officials.
He also owns a taxicab and a pricey taxi medallion, prosecutors alleged, which bring an additional $8,000 each month into his pockets.
The Chaudhry family bought a rental property in Brooklyn in 2008, garnering them an additional $2,950 from tenants each month.
Chaudhry also derives income from a CITGO gas station in Elmsford, N.Y., and owns Pak Sweets House, a candy shop on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn.