A white and wealthy Ohio man was found guilty of accepting more than $8,300 in food stamps and other welfare benefits, including Medicaid, over a two-year period for his suburban family.
The question now is, will he actually spend time in jail, or will being rich
and white win out yet again?
According to WKYC, Pascal Mahvi, who has been dubbed the “Food Stamp Millionaire,” was convicted Friday of two fraud-related charges stemming from his acceptance and use of all the welfare benefits that are usually meant to be provided to those in need.
His sentencing is expected to come within the next four to six weeks, and prosecutors are supposedly seeking jail time for the wealthy Geauga County man.
“We’re absolutely going to recommend time behind bars,” Prosecutor James Flaiz said. “I think people have to understand, if you abuse the system that taxpayers have set up to help the poor and you defraud that system, there needs to be consequences.”
Mahvi could face up to 18 months in prison, prosecutors say, and could also be made to make restitution for the benefits that he did receive.
However, as WKYC notes, Ohio law does suggest probation for low-level, first-time offenders, and Mahvi was convicted on a fifth-degree felony charge for food stamp fraud and a misdemeanor for making false or misleading statements in his Medicaid application, so whether or not he will receive adequate sentencing is yet to be seen.
Last year, Mahvi’s little scheme blew wide open after investigators revealed that he failed to disclose the entirety of his wealth, including his $800,000 Russell Township home, an in-ground swimming pool, multiple cars, stabled horses and undeveloped property that is tagged at being worth tens of millions of dollars in the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
Yet Mahvi claimed that he applied for welfare because his businesses failed and he had no choice but to turn his open hand to the government.
Mahvi’s attorney insisted that prosecutors were creating an “illusion of great wealth,” when Mahvi was, in fact, suffering, with his business ventures failing, his home in foreclosure and his St. Lucia property heavily mortgaged, leaving him no choice but to apply for welfare to provide for his wife and adult children.
While the family was receiving food stamps from 2014 to 2016, however, investigators also discovered more than $1 million circulating around several family bank accounts. However, those records, a judge ruled, did not give an accurate or thorough accounting, and so Mahvi ended up being acquitted on two counts of grand theft.
“Testimony from a forensic accountant … would have been of great benefit to the parties and the court,” Judge Forrest Burt wrote in his decision. “Simply adding debits and credits into and out of the various accounts does not present an accurate representation of whether [Mahvi] did or did not disclose resources or income.”
Read more at WKYC.