Federal Welfare Fraud Conviction Results in Prison Sentence and Deportation of Muhammad Dalalli

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles announced today that Muhammad Dalalli, 41, of Grand Rapids, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker for his scheme to defraud the federal government in connection with subsistence benefits.

On November 4, 2013, Dalalli and his wife were charged with defrauding the federal government of numerous subsistence benefits after arriving in the United States from Iraq. The programs defrauded included the Women, Infants and Children (“WIC”) program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (“TANF”), HUD, and Medicaid benefits. Dalalli and his wife defrauded these programs by failing to reveal their ownership of Lebanese bank accounts and other assets, and by concealing their living arrangements in connection with their receipt of HUD-subsidized housing. The fraud scheme resulted in losses totaling $ 126,739. Dalalli, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was additionally charged with making false statements in connection with his citizenship application.

Dalalli’s trial commenced on January 13, 2015. After the first day of trial he entered a guilty plea to all counts. Shortly thereafter, he requested that his guilty pleas be set aside, claiming that he had been coerced into pleading guilty by his defense attorney. This request was denied by Judge Jonker, who noted that the court had inquired at length with Dalalli concerning his decision to plead guilty, and Dalalli had assured the court that his decision to plead guilty was voluntary.

On July 14, 2015, Judge Jonker sentenced Dalalli to serve a prison term of 27 months, followed by supervised release of 36 months. The sentence included restitution of $ 126,739. Dalalli was also stripped of his U.S. citizenship and ordered deported following the completion of his sentence. Dalalli’s wife, Rima Alame, will be sentenced on August 31, 2015.

This case was investigated by the Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy VerHey.

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