A Somalia native who lied about living in refugee camps to enter the U.S. and made false claims to obtain MaineCare benefits faces up to 15 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

Mohdi M. Ali, 56, of Lewiston, also known as Canadian resident Mahdi Alio, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Portland to fraudulently obtaining an alien registration card, making false statements in connection with a health care benefit program and using a Social Security number obtained on the basis of false information. 

Ali faces up to 10 years in prison on the immigration charge and five years for false statements and Social Security charges. As part of his plea agreement, Ali agreed to be removed to Canada after completing any prison term imposed.

According to information released by U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II, Ali came to the United States from Somalia in 1990 to attend college. He later moved to Canada, where he became a Canadian citizen in 1995. He returned to the United States three years later, where he applied for and was granted asylum. He was later granted permanent resident alien status after falsely claiming to have lived in refugee camps in Kenya from 1992 to 1998.

In 2009, federal agents raided Ali’s downtown Lewiston business, Decent Home Care Inc. Ali was owner and president of the company, which provided nonmedical, health care-related services to disabled people. At the time, Ali told the Sun Journal the business served between 35 and 40 clients.

A Sun Journal investigation later revealed that Decent Home Care Inc. received more than $1 million in payments from the state in 2008 to provide nonmedical services to the elderly and disabled. The company was paid to deliver in-home services to 45 clients under the state’s Medicaid program, known as MaineCare, meaning it spent an estimated $22,222 per client that year.

According to records obtained by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Decent Home Care first received state funds in 2006, the year it was incorporated, and was paid $118,909 that year. Payments to the company increased by 796 percent, to more than $1 million by 2008. As of the June 2009 report, the company had received $422,731 for that year.

Delahanty reported that in 2006 Ali used his falsely obtained alien registration card to apply for MaineCare benefits. That would have been the same year he incorporated his business. During a 2007 review of his MaineCare eligibility, Ali submitted false information to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that concealed nearly $29,000 in accumulated bank accounts and $24,000 in wages earned as executive director of Decent Home Care Inc.

Delahanty reported that Ali later used the Social Security number obtained through false statements on a 2009 application for Decent Home Care Inc. to become a MaineCare provider.

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