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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 10, 2017

Day Care Owner Pleads Guilty To Stealing Government Funds

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.-Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Halima Mohamed, 35, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to theft of government funds before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who is handling the case, stated that in February 2015, the defendant and her husband, Tariq Butt, opened Twinkle Stars Day Care Center in Buffalo. Between January 2016 and September 2016, Mohamed submitted hundreds of fraudulent claims to Erie County seeking reimbursement for daycare services purportedly provided by Twinkle Stars to children eligible for Child Care and Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The defendant knew that the children listed on the claims did not actually attend Twinkle Stars on the dates and times claimed, making the daycare ineligible for reimbursement. In total, between January 2016 and September 2016, Erie County paid Twinkle Stars approximately $130,188 for daycare services, which were never rendered.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Scott Lampert, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 1, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Vilardo.

Updated July 11, 2017