MM Summary – A NY couple hid their income so they could get SNAP benefits and stole $17,000.00
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A couple formerly from Great Kills accused of welfare fraud is on the hook for over $17,000 in restitution after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.
But Yousef Shihadeh and Rihana Musleh would avoid jail if they pony up the cash.
The defendants carried out the scheme between January 2012 and September 2015, an indictment said.
The couple was living on the 100 block of Sandalwood Drive then, said a criminal complaint.
They resided in New Springville when arrested in March 2019, police said.
The complaint said Musleh submitted documents containing false information to obtain Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
SNAP benefits were previously known as food stamps.
Musleh failed to report Shihadeh’s income and financial resources to secure the benefits, said the complaint.
Shihadeh, 51, and Musleh, 43, were accused of grand larceny, welfare fraud and offering a false instrument for filing.
Shihadeh pleaded guilty on Tuesday in state Supreme Court, St. George, to a felony count of offering a false instrument for filing.
Musleh pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor counts of that charge.
Under their agreements, the defendants must fork over $17,139 to the city Human Resources Administration.
If they pay up by Aug. 1, 2022, the felony charge against Musleh will be vacated, and she’ll be sentenced to a conditional discharge on the misdemeanor conviction.
Shihadeh would also be sentenced to a conditional discharge, but on the felony conviction.
The couple potentially faced up to 28 months to seven years in prison had they gone to trial and been convicted of the top grand-larceny or welfare-fraud charge.
Biju Koshy, Musleh’s lawyer, declined comment on the case.
Matthew Santamauro, Shihadeh’s attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Assistant District Attorney Joshua Freeman is prosecuting the case.