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Press Release

Former federal probation officer sentenced to prison for extorting individuals under her supervision

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A former federal probation officer was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to six months in prison for extortion.


During her time as a probation officer, Helwa H. Qasem, 45, of Bexley, Ohio, accepted cash, pills, goods and services from individuals under her supervision.


According to court documents, from 2016 through 2018, Qasem accepted Xanax, cash, a sweater, a bag and below-market personal services in exchange for official actions as a probation officer.


In her role as a U.S. Probation Officer, Qasem supervised offenders who had been sentenced to terms of probation by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio or who were serving terms of supervised release after release from prison. It was part of her duties to report individuals who violated their terms of probation or supervised release.


Qasem extorted property from at least four individuals under her supervision and, in return, did not report violations committed by those individuals. For example, at least two individuals under supervision and the spouse of a third provided Xanax to Qasem for her personal use.


Qasem also unlawfully received several personal services, including moving services to help her relocate to a new home, and repairs to blinds, a dryer, a dishwasher, a washing machine and a vehicle. A person under Qasem’s supervision arranged for workers to provide these personal services for her.


Finally, Qasem shared confidential information she received from a Columbus police officer to an individual under her supervision. Qasem had received a police report detailing that an officer had met with a person who was attempting to become a confidential informant. The individual had provided information that a person under Qasem’s supervision was a drug trafficker. The report contained a photograph of the potential informant. Qasem showed that photograph to the person under her supervision and told him to stay away from the potential informant.


Qasem pleaded guilty in June 2022 to a bill of information charging her with extortion under color of official right.


As part of her sentence, Qasem was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release, with the first six months to be served under home detention.


Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI); Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant and other members of the FBI’s Southern Ohio Public Corruption Task Force announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison. Assistant United States Attorneys Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and Elizabeth A. Geraghty are representing the United States in this case.

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Updated November 30, 2022

Public Corruption