- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014
4 charged in $4M public benefits scheme

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Prosecutors have charged four people in what authorities call a “massive” fraud scheme in the Twin Cities involving public benefits.

The Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1Arqb3c) reports the charges allege a husband and wife from Fridley and two accomplices duped 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 Ramsey County Attorney’s office filed 96 felony counts against the suspects after a two-year investigation.

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

According to the criminal complaint, Ali faces the most charges - 52 felonies - and appears to be a key leader in the fraud.


Ex-Stillwater mayor charged in fraud scheme

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The former mayor of Stillwater was charged in federal court Wednesday with fraudulent accounting that helped conceal millions of dollars in tax liabilities for a Twin Cities home-health company.

Ken Harycki, who abruptly resigned from office last month, was charged on an “information” by the U.S. attorney - a procedure that indicates the defendant is expected to plead guilty, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/13zBTyGhttps://strib.mn/13zBTyG ) reported.

The charges against Harycki, a certified public accountant, say he “regularly prepared and assisted in the preparation of” tax forms he knew to be false.

Two brothers who own the home-health company were arrested and indicted this week on a charge of Medicaid fraud. Thurlee Belfrey and his brother, Roylee, both 48, own and manage multiple health care businesses and an entertainment business, according to court documents and state records.

Home-health companies controlled by the Belfreys and relatives have outstanding federal tax liabilities of $12 million, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday, and state tax liabilities of $2.3 million as of April 2013.


Sheriff: Few answers yet in freeway shootings

SHOREVIEW, Minn. (AP) - Authorities said they have few answers about the motive behind a fatal shooting at an Interstate 94 rest stop early Wednesday that led to officers shooting and killing a suspect on Interstate 694, forcing about six miles of busy freeway to be closed for several hours.

Maple Grove police arrived about 1 a.m. at the Elm Creek rest stop in Maple Grove, a suburb northwest of Minneapolis, and found a man who had been fatally shot in an apparent homicide. Officers soon spotted a red SUV matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle near where I-94, I-694 and I-494 split, the Hennepin County sheriff’s office said.

With the aid of a State Patrol helicopter, they pursued the vehicle until it crashed into the cable barriers in the center median on I-694 in Shoreview, a suburb north of St. Paul. Authorities said the driver got out and was holding a weapon, prompting a Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy and a Brooklyn Center police officer to open fire, killing the suspect.

The investigation is complex, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said at a news conference. The Maple Grove Police Department is leading the investigation into the rest stop shooting, while the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was in charge of the investigation into the shooting of the suspect.

“We have more questions than answers at this point,” Stanek said. “We want to get at what happened, why it happened and how it happened.”


MNsure still struggles to send consumer data to health plans

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s health insurance exchange has celebrated shorter call wait times and a largely problem-free website this year, but state officials are still struggling to transfer the enrollment data that insurance companies need to enroll thousands of residents in coverage.

Representatives from the insurance companies that offer coverage on MNsure say they’ve received flawed or incomplete enrollment data from the exchange - if they’ve received it at all. With a Dec. 31 deadline fast approaching to import sign-ups into their systems for coverage effective Jan. 1, the clock is ticking to fix those issues.

“This is a significant barrier that must be addressed in the next couple of days,” Joel Ulland, a lobbyist with UCare, told MNsure’s board of directors Wednesday.

Ulland said UCare had expected full data from the first few weeks of open enrollment two weeks ago so the company could start invoicing consumers and sending out insurance cards in time for Jan. 1. Instead, the files they’ve received have been filled with errors and duplicates, making them largely unusable, he said.

That’s been the case for all four insurance plans offering coverage on the exchange, said Eileen Smith, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Council of Health Plans. Smith said insurers are handling what’s supposed to be an automatic process by hand, teasing out useful information from the enrollment files to get patients into their systems.

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