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Couple pleads guilty to welfare fraud charges

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Updated: 3/19 2:17 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – A Cohoes couple who were paid to work on special assignments for the U.S. government have pleaded guilty to welfare fraud charges in Albany County.

According to Albany County District Attorney David Soares, Lailuma Meherdil, 44, and her husband Amirjan Hayattulah, 47, have admitted to their roles in defrauding the Albany County Department of Social Services in Medicare, Food Stamps, and Low Income Housing assistance benefits.

Meherdil pleaded guilty to one count of Welfare Fraud in the 4th degree, a felony. Hayattulah pleaded guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the 4thdegree, a felony. Both of them were originally charged with Welfare Fraud, Grand Larceny and Offering a False Instrument for Filing.

The couple was arrested in January after the two applied for and received welfare benefits and housing at Manor Sites. Last month, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said the couple failed to claim the over $150,000 income they were making working as government contractors.

Prosecutors said in February that Meherdil was employed as a translator for contractor SOS International LLC, and that her husband worked for another U.S. contractor as an actor. His attorney said Hayattulah played "indigenous characters" during military training exercises.

Soares said that Meherdil and Hayattulah received $10,825.83 in Medicare and Food Stamp benefits. They also filled out applications to receive $5,903.00 in low income housing assistance from the Cohoes Housing Authority they were not eligible to receive. 

The pair must each pay $5,903.00 in restitution to the Cohoes Housing Authority and Meherdil must pay $10,825.83 in restitution to the Albany County Department of Social Services.

Both Mehedril and Hayattulah face up to six months in the Albany County Correctional Facility followed by five years of felony probabtion. They are scheduled to be sentence on May 6. 

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