Reporting John Slattery
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — They lived the life of luxury, but allegedly accepted handouts that you paid for.
Prosecutors on Staten Island have arrested four couples in an astonishing welfare scam.
You wouldn’t expect the owners of a million-dollar Tottenville home, which has a theater room and a pool to file for Medicaid. Nor would you expect the owners of a $1.4 million dollar Todt Hill mansion to seek welfare help.
However, the Staten Island District Attorney charges they did just that.
“This is just the first part of ‘Operation Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless,’” said Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan.
Donovan announced indictments against eight alleged welfare cheats. Hanna Youssef, 61, and his wife, Zaka, are charged with taking $36,000 in Medicaid benefits. They not only own a gated home, but also a strip mall that provides them $14,000 dollars a month.
“They had claimed on their applications that they had no income, no additional assets or properties and they claimed that their daughter was supporting them,” Donovan said.
Richard Costa, 53, and his wife, Carrie, made a $360,000 down payment on their Tottenville home. Costa, according to Donovan, told Medicaid they made nothing or $400 as day laborers despite making a quarter of a million dollars a year in the garment trade and driving two Mercedes.
Rashad And Kathleen Trabulsi, ages 34 and 33, allegedly claimed they needed $30,000 in Medicaid over the last three years. That despite Trabulsi being a licensed chiropractor with a lucrative Brooklyn business.
Also arrested in the operation were Hany Mekhael, 41, and Jackline Farag, 37.
CBS 2 was unable to find any of the defendants at home. They were released on their own recognizance.
Medicaid eligibility states that the income for a family of four, must not exceed $17,500 dollars a year.
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