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Press Release

Daycare Owner Sentenced For Stealing Government Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

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

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Tariq Butt, 42, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of theft of government funds, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $305,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who handled the case, stated that in February 2015, the defendant and his wife, Halima Mohammed, opened Twinkle Stars Day Care Center, and in July 2015, the couple opened Candyland Daycare, both located in the City of Buffalo. 

Between January 2016 and September 2016, the defendant submitted hundreds of false and fraudulent claims to Erie County seeking reimbursement for daycare services supposedly provided by Twinkle Stars and Candyland 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 and Candyland approximately $305,000 for daycare services, which were never rendered. 

Halima Mohamed was previously convicted and sentenced to five months in prison and three years supervised release, to include five months home detention.

Today’s 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 Gary Loeffert.

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Updated December 20, 2018

Financial Fraud