- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Four people have been charged in what authorities are calling a “massive” fraud scheme in the Twin Cities involving public benefits.

The charges allege a husband and wife from Fridley and two accomplices defrauded the state out of about $4 million by falsifying work records at their home health care and child care businesses and funneling some of that money into another family-owned business, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1Arqb3c) reported.

After a two-year investigation, the Ramsey County Attorney’s office filed 96 felony counts against the suspects Tuesday.

“Every time we picked up a stone, there was more for us to look at,” County Attorney John Choi said Wednesday at a news conference.

Charged are Yasmin Ali, 33, and her husband, Ahmed Aden Mohamed, 46; Joshua John Miller, 31, of St. Paul; and Jordan Christopher Smith, 31, of Cottage Grove.

Ali and Miller were booked into the jail Wednesday and are scheduled to appear in court Thursday. Smith was charged via summons and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 7. An arrest warrant was issued for Mohamed, who remained at large Wednesday evening.

According to the criminal complaint, Ali faces the most charges - 52 felony counts, including racketeering, theft by swindle, concealing criminal proceeds and identity theft - and appears to be a key leader in the fraud.

The charges allege that from 2009 to 2012, Ali, Mohamed and Miller owned and operated a group of businesses, including All Nations Home Health Care and Deqo Family Center, which were used to swindle the state out of millions.

The defendants allegedly submitted false claims for reimbursement for personal care assistance work through All Nations. They identified people as qualified caregivers when they did not provide such services.

They also recruited mothers eligible for state-funded child care to enroll their children in one of their three child care centers - in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Apple Valley, according to the charges. The mothers were also asked to work as employees. The defendants then allegedly filed false time records of the mothers’ employment, inflating their actual work hours to collect money from the state.

Authorities said some mothers were never paid for their work while others were paid after the business received money from the state.

Ali’s attorney did not return a phone message for comment Wednesday. Online court records do not list an attorney for Miller.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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