DA: 12 LIers charged in public assistance fraud

Three of the 12 suspects from Long Island

Three of the 12 suspects from Long Island public assistance scam: Left, Almas Badsha, 40, of Valley Stream, center, Eric Engvaldsen, 38, of East Meadow, and right, Nancy Figueroa, 41, of Oceanside. (May 30, 2013) (Credit: Handouts)

Twelve Long Islanders stole more than $370,000 in Medicaid benefits, food stamps and other public-assistance aid, Nassau County prosecutors said Thursday.

The twelve -- 11 from Nassau and one from Suffolk -- have been arrested on multiple charges, including grand larceny and welfare fraud, according to a news release from the office of District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

The arrests were the result of a joint investigation by the district attorney's Public Assistance Fraud Unit and the Nassau County Department of Social Services Special Investigations Unit, the release said.


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Rice called the actions of those arrested deplorable and said the arrests "should serve as further warning that anyone who cheats our taxpayers will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Those charged after the joint probe, according to prosecutors, include:

Nancy Figueroa, 41, of Oceanside. She was arrested Wednesday on charges of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and first degree offering a false instrument for filing. Between September 2006 and December 2011, Figueroa stole more than $21,000 in Medicaid benefits by underreporting her income and failing to disclose that she owned a housecleaning business, prosecutors said. She faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted. She was released on her own recognizance and scheduled to return to court June 5. Online court records do not indicate whether she entered a plea.

Mohamed Badsha, 45, and Almas Badsha, 40, of Valley Stream. They were arrested on May 20 on charges of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Rice's office said that between August 2005 and August 2010, the Badshas stole more than $62,000 in Medicaid benefits by underreporting their income and hiding Mohamed Badsha's ownership of a Manhattan stationary store. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison. Each was released on their own recognizance and scheduled to return to court June 4. Online court records do not indicate whether either of them entered a plea.

Yeimy Gasca, 33, of Elmont. She was arrested April 12 on charges of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The investigation revealed that between March 2010 and March 2012, Gasca stole more than $18,000 in Medicaid, food stamps and day-care benefits by submitting falsified pay stubs that claimed a lower income than what she actually earned, Rice's office said. Gasca faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted. She was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court July 17. Online court records do not indicate whether she entered a plea.

Belinda Lang, 53, of Hempstead. She was arrested May 2 on charges of fourth-degree welfare fraud and fourth-degree grand larceny. Rice's office said that between August 2008 and March 2011 Lang stole more than $12,000 in shelter allowances by joining a rewards program at the hotel where she was living, earning free nights that she used to pay for her lodging while still collecting her full shelter allowance. In its news release, prosecutors did not specify how much time Lang faces if convicted. She was released on her own recognizance and was to appear again in court Thursday. Online court records do not indicate whether she entered a plea.

Jeffrey Lovelidge, 49, and Rosemarie Lovelidge, 42, of Merrick. They were arrested Nov. 13 on charges of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Between August 2002 and May 2012, the Lovelidges stole more than $117,000 in Medicaid benefits by failing to report Jeffrey Lovelidge's ownership of two restoration and cleaning businesses, as well as yearly deposits into their personal bank accounts of between $46,000 and $300,000. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Each was released on their own recognizance and are due back in court June 20. Online court records do not indicate whether they entered a plea.

Atinuke Odunbaku, 42, of Baldwin. She was arrested March 20 and charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. From July 2010 to June 2012, Odunbaku stole more than $60,000 in Medicaid benefits, claiming the father of her four children to be out of the household, prosecutors said. In reality, the father lived in the house and was employed as a physician's assistant, whose income combined with Odunbaku's income as an accountant peaked at $158,000 in 2011. In addition, the couple own property in New York and Georgia. Odunbaku faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. She was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court July 9. Online court records do not indicate whether she entered a plea.

Alvia Richards, 38, of Franklin Square. She was arrested March 27 and charged with third-degree grand larceny and third-degree welfare fraud. Rice's office said that between July 2010 and August 2011, Richards stole more than $23,000 in public assistance and food stamp benefits by falsely reporting that three children resided in her household, when in reality, two of the children lived out of state. She faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted. She was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court July 16. Online court records do not indicate whether she entered a plea.

Laura Sanfilipo, 51, of Oakdale. She was arrested March 12 and charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Between September 2007 and April 2011, Sanfilipo stole more than $34,000 in Medicaid and food stamp benefits by failing to report that she was living with her child's father and did not report his earnings, the news release said. She faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted. She is due back in court June 3. Online court records for her were not available.

Aftab Amray, 57, of Rockville Centre. He was arrested Jan. 18 and pleaded guilty to third-degree welfare fraud in April. Rice's office said that between December 2003 and February 2009, Amray stole more than $33,000 in Medicaid benefits by falsely reporting a weekly income of $300. In reality, he deposited more than $500,000 into his bank accounts during that time, prosecutors said. He is scheduled for sentencing June 20. Prosecutors did not say how much time he faces.

Eric Engvaldsen, 48, of East Meadow. He was arrested April 26 and pleaded guilty to third-degree welfare fraud earlier this month. Between July 2011 and February 2012, Engvaldsen stole more than $15,000 in Medicaid, food stamps, and public assistance benefits for his household by falsely reporting income of $35 per shift at a fictitious pizzeria, prosecutors said. In reality, he worked as an executive chef at a Williston Park restaurant, prosecutors said. His sentencing is scheduled for June 27. Prosecutors did not say how much time he faces.

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