One man released, the other held in Twin Cities welfare fraud case

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PORTLAND — Two men from the Twin Cities charged with welfare fraud appeared in federal court Monday seeking release from jail.

At an afternoon hearing, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Rich III ordered Abdirashid Ahmed, 38, of Lewiston released on $5,000 bond after seizing his passport.

Rich said Ahmed would be equipped with an electronic monitoring device to ensure he does not leave Androscoggin County.

Ahmed was kept Monday night in federal custody at Cumberland County Jail. He was expected to be escorted Tuesday morning to Lewiston and released into the custody of the U.S. Probation Office. He must get permission from that office if he were to seek to leave Androscoggin County in the future, Rich said.

A list of people from whom Ahmed is barred from having contact was discussed with Ahmed’s retained attorney, Peter Rodway.

Garat Osman, 32, of Auburn appeared in the same courtroom after Ahmed.

Dylan Boyd, who represented Osman on Monday agreed to continue Osman’s detention hearing to Thursday, giving Osman time to hire a lawyer. It also gave the court time to consider Osman’s financial declaration form that he signed earlier under the penalty of perjury.

Rich said he was concerned about inconsistencies between that document and Osman’s tax returns from last year.

Ahmed and Osman wore orange jail suits and were handcuffed to a belly belt and shackled at the ankles.

More than two dozen men and women from the Somali community sat in the gallery to show their support for the two men.

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.

The indictment also said from May 2015 to December 2017, Ahmed and Osman conspired to defraud MaineCare by billing the program for interpreting services not rendered or partially rendered.

Fraudulent bills were submitted to MaineCare that overstated the health and interpreter services provided. MaineCare reimbursed the provider based upon that fraudulent billing, according to the indictment.

If convicted, Ahmed and Osman each faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, each may also be ordered to pay restitution to MaineCare.

Both men made initial appearances last week in U.S. District Court, where they pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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