More Somali welfare fraud in Lewiston, ME: housing fraud this time

Ho hum, we have reported many stories about fraud busts in Lewiston, Maine’s little Mogadishu.  We’ve heard about food stamp fraud and home health care fraud, now it’s alleged housing assistance fraud.

To fully understand what has happened to Lewiston and Maine generally, readers should visit this post from the fall of 2009 about Maine, the welfare magnet for Somalis.  That post has garnered over 6000 views to date.  Use our search function for ‘Lewiston’ to see our archives on all the problems with refugees in that city.

This story I’m reporting today is from July.    I obviously missed it, but saw it today because I noticed that there were many searches of our website for welfare fraud in Maine, so I figured I might have missed some new stories.

How is it that this REFUGEE couple set up limited liability companies, purchased buildings and still don’t speak English in their ten years in the US?

Here it is at the Bangor Daily News:

AUBURN, Maine — A Lewiston couple appeared in court Thursday to deny charges of welfare fraud 2½ years after federal agents raided the wife’s market on Bartlett Street.

Roda O. Abdi, 44, and her husband, Ali-Nassir H. Ahmed, 52, each pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony theft, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The couple is accused of fraudulently taking federal housing assistance money.

Abdi also was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of attempted theft in connection with attempts to redeem Women, Infants and Children program vouchers. That charge is punishable by up to 364 days in jail.

Their morning arraignment was aided by an interpreter who translated for the couple from English to Somali and to the judge from Somali to English.

What!  Am I reading this correctly? They were receiving rental assistance (from you, the taxpayer) when they owned the whole apartment building!

More than a dozen members of the Somali community attended the courtroom hearings Thursday.

Investigators say the couple applied for U.S. Housing and Urban Development rental assistance for an apartment they rented at 149 Bartlett St. but failed to disclose their real estate holdings and income. The apartment building in which they live is owned by Abdi through a limited liability corporation called 210 Ash St. LLC, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said. Abdi also owns a building at 199 Bartlett St. that houses her market, A&R Halal Market, as well as apartments, called 199-214 Bartlett St. LLC.

The couple received roughly $18,000 in rental assistance at their apartment at 149 Bartlett St. over two years beginning in 2006, Robbin said. The total amount they received was roughly $58,000, but, because of the statute of limitations, they only can be prosecuted for the assistance they received from 2006 through 2008, Robbin said.

That henna and goat meat business is really lucrative!  And, don’t you just wonder who are the American lawyers helping them set up their “businesses?”  Curious and enterprising Mainers should be able to find out who the agent was for setting up those LLCs through your Secretary of State’s office.

Abdi was referenced in Sun Journal* stories as the owner of the market dating to 2003. She told reporters at that time that she imported goat meat from as far away as Philadelphia because no Maine farmer slaughtered goats according to Muslim law.

In a Mother Jones magazine story, Abdi said she also offered henna to decorate women’s hands as well as all of the ingredients for Somali dishes.

* I reported on that Sun Journal story here in 2010.   You folks wondering what is going on in Rochester and Faribault, Minnesota with all the henna/goat shops need to keep an eye on Lewiston.  As Maine goes so goes Minnesota!