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Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2012

DA VANCE ANNOUNCES INDICTMENT OF MARRIED COUPLE FOR STEALING WELFARE BENEFITS

Defendant Charged With Fraudulently Filing for More Than $198,000 in Medicaid and Food Stamps

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the indictment of SALIM BAKHSH, 47, and TIRNAWATI BAKHSH, a/k/a SHOBA BAKHSH, a/k/a TIRNAWATI PERSAUD, 46, for submitting fraudulent Medicaid applications for the past six years and fraudulent food stamp applications for the last two years.  The defendants are each charged in New York State Supreme Court with Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, and Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree. [1]

“These defendants abused programs designed to help the neediest among us,” said District Attorney Vance. “Stealing from taxpayers is simply unacceptable; curbing fraud and abuse is essential to protect the system for future generations. My Office’s Public Assistance Fraud Unit aggressively investigates public benefits fraud to ensure the preservation of our social safety net.”
 
Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar said: “Unscrupulous individual commit egregious acts in an attempt to undermine the integrity of our vital public benefits programs.  Fortunately, thanks to the meticulous work of our agency’s fraud investigators and the commitment of law enforcement officials like Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, New York City prosecutes these individuals to the full extent of the law.  HRA will continue to ensure that we provide public assistance to those who need it.”
 
According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record, in 2006, the defendants filed forms claiming to earn an income of $338 per week, or about $16,000 annually, and few, if any, additional assets.  That same year, however, SALIM and TIRNAWATI BAKHSH deposited more than $900,000 into bank accounts they controlled, and also purchased property in Winter Haven, Florida for more than $186,000.  Over the course of the charged fraud, which lasted from at least 2006 to 2012, the defendants controlled more than $2.6 million in multiple Citibank accounts and deposited approximately $583,000 in cash into their accounts.  In addition to the Winter Haven property, SALIM BAKHSH owns at least ten additional properties in Hernando County, Florida and at least two properties in Queens, New York.
 
From April 2006 through July 2012, the Human Resources Administration (“HRA”) paid approximately $185,000 in Medicaid benefits to the defendants.  From 2011 through July 2012, HRA paid over $13,000 in food stamp benefits to the defendants and their children.  Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, working in concert with HRA Investigators, uncovered the defendants’ fraud. 
 
Assistant District Attorney Martin De Luca is handling the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Marcy Chelmow, Chief of the Public Assistance Fraud Unit. Accountant Investigator Evelyn Marrero of the District Attorney’s Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations Unit assisted in the investigation.  Trial Preparation Assistant Deirdre Harrington is also assisting with the case.
 
District Attorney Vance also thanked the New York City Human Resources Administration and HRA Fraud Investigator Thomas Toth. 
 
Defendant Information:
 
SALIM BAKHSH, D.O.B. 11/09/1965
Queens, NY
 
TIRNAWATI BAKHSH, a/k/a SHOBA BAKHSH, a/k/a TIRNAWATI PERSAUD, D.O.B. 12/06/1966
Queens, NY
 
Charges:
Welfare Fraud in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count 
Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, 8 counts
[1] The charges contained in the indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.