Two Somali immigrants have been charged with welfare fraud in Maine, reports say.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maine said a federal grand jury indicted Abdirashid Ahmed, 38, of Lewiston and Garat Osman, 32, of Auburn for allegedly getting kickbacks of up to $200 per referral of people to a specific health care provider,” the Portland Press Herald reported this month:
Ahmed solicited kickbacks from a MaineCare provider in exchange for referring beneficiaries to the provider, according to the indictment. Ahmed and Osman also allegedly brought beneficiaries to the provider and served as Somali interpreters during the visits.
The indictment also alleges that the health care provider, identified in documents as “Individual A,” submitted fraudulent bills for interpreting services for patients’ appointments with the provider.
According to court documents, Ahmed is accused of receiving at least $23,700 in kickbacks for referring patients to the health care provider between November 2015 and last December. According to court filings, Osman received nearly $7,000.
The indictment said that the health care provider’s bills indicated that interpreting services were provided for about two hours when the appointments were actually much shorter, usually about half an hour. MaineCare reimburses for interpreting services at a rate of $20 for each 15-minute interval.
“More than two dozen men and women from the Somali community sat in the gallery to show their support for the two men,” the Sun Journal reported when Ahmed and Osman faced charges in court:
Ahmed and Osman were arrested last week, each charged with health care fraud involving MaineCare – Maine’s Medicaid program – and receiving health care kickbacks for more than two years.
Both men are accused of referring MaineCare beneficiaries to an unnamed (in the indictment) health care provider and served as Somali interpreters, according to investigators.
Maine has one of the highest per capita rates of Somali refugee resettlement in the country, behind only Minnesota, which also has recently seen charges of Somali welfare fraud, and North Dakota, as Breitbart News reported in 2016:
Ninety-seven thousand three hundred and eighty-five Somali refugees have been resettled in the United States in the fifteen years since FY 2002, of which 15,710 were resettled in Minnesota, more than any other state in the country, according to the Department of State’s interactive website.
Trailing Minnesota in the top ten states for Somali refugee resettlement since FY 2002 are Ohio (7,551), Texas (7,195), New York (6,169), Arizona (5,682), Georgia (4,113), California (3,731), Missouri (3,246), Massachusetts (3,156), and Tennessee (2,958).
Minnesota also leads the country in the number of Somali refugees resettled over these fifteen years on a per capita basis, with 286.2 Somali refugees resettled per 100,000 residents of the state. (The state’s 2015 population was 5.5 million).
Only two states come close to Minnesota’s per capita Somali refugee resettlement number: North Dakota and Maine.
North Dakota experienced a 131.7 Somali refugee resettlement rate per 100,000 residents (997 refugees over fifteen years in a state with a 2015 population of 756,927).
Maine experienced a 117.9 Somali refugee resettlement rate per 100,000 residents (1,568 refugees over fifteen years in a state with a 2015 population of 1.3 million).
Breitbart News reported this month about allegations in Minnesota that Somali immigrants there were engaged in a $100 million daycare fraud:
A Minnesota State Senate Committee held a special hearing on Tuesday to consider legislation that would stop efforts to “broaden the childcare assistance program” after a local Fox News affiliate broke the story on Monday that Somali immigrants are allegedly running an estimated $100 million daycare fraud scheme paid for by taxpayers.
The Minneapolis Somali community is centered around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are separated by the Mississippi River. The Maine Somali community is centered around that state’s “Twin Cities” of Lewiston and Auburn, which are separated by the Androscoggin River.