Rome, Georgia – Mohammed Ajmal, age 47, from Cartersville, Georgia, was arraigned on 8th January 2021 before the United States Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson and charged with three counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of false statements regarding health care issues, and two counts of health care fraud. His co-conspirator Faisal Shahzad, age 30, also from Cartersville, Georgia, who was arraigned on 8th December 2020, was charged with one count of false statements to a federal agent.
According to the Acting United States Attorney Bobby L. Christine, the charging documents and evidence presented in court:
Ajmal, though different corporations, owned multiple convenience stores and gas stations around Cartersville, Georgia. Many of these businesses contained coin-operated entertainment machines called COAMs. The COAMs machines are controlled by the Lottery Corporation of Georgia.
From 2013 to 2015, the Lottery Corporation enforced governing regulations under Georgia law, which led to Ajmal generating less income from the COAMs. Ajmal then reached out to the company that owns the main license for the COAMs machines in his stations and purportedly communicated that if it wanted to keep operating the COAMs on his stations, it would have to offer kickbacks to him or pay extra money. To hide the payment of the kickbacks, Ajmal purportedly directed the company to write checks to Ajmal’s family members, his brother, Shahzad. Ajmal then purportedly utilized the funds for his personal benefits, including to construct a new house. Between 2015 and 2018, the kickbacks received amounted to 2,292,847 U.S. dollars. Allegedly, Aimal did not submit any of this revenue on his tax returns for the years from 2015 to 2017; consequently, Ajmal allegedly filled fewer tax returns than he actually earned for those three years.
As part of the investigation into this matter, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation interviewed Shahzad on 14th June 2019 at his workplace. During the interview, Shahzad purportedly lied to the investigation agent that the checks written by the COAMs company to him were for payments for the services he offered to the company.
Additionally, it is alleged that Ajmal defrauded PeachCare for Kids by making false statements about his income. PeachCare for Kids is a Georgia-based public health care benefit program that is subsidized for kids in low-income and moderate-income families. To register a child, PeachCare for Kids, parents must prove that the family’s total earnings are below a certain amount. Because Ajmal’s earnings were above the required limit, his children were not qualified to enroll in the PeachCare for Kids.
For Ajmal’s children to be enrolled, Ajmal purportedly stated lower income by providing fake income verification forms and other supporting records to the PeachCare for Kids program. Allegedly, the income verification forms did not show any self-employment earnings for Ajmal or his wife; instead, it listed fabricated employment and attached copies of uncashed paychecks. While the kids were registered in the program, Ajmal and his wife acquired medical care and drug prescriptions for them at a public cost.
The Acting United States Attorney Bobby L. Christine said that Aimal was a prosperous businessman who tried to play the system by purportedly submitting false tax returns to hide bribes. Christine added that Aimal further provided fake income documents in order to get free health care coverage for his children, while Shahzad, his brother, is claimed to have made false statements to an investigation agent to help hide the crimes.
The Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation James E. Dorsey said that it does not matter whether your income is genuine or counterfeit; earning is earning, and everybody has a duty of reporting their income to the Internal Revenue Service, and the Revenue Service is committed to enforcing justice.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Director Vic Reynolds said that Aimal’s matter was a Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s investigation that started as an unlawful gambling business case and resulted in the authorities discovering several other criminal offenses. Reynolds added that the collaboration the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has with the state and federal, and local agencies is significant in ensuring all possible offenses are exposed, investigated, and prosecuted satisfyingly.
Ajmal and Shahzad were indicted in December 2020 by a federal grand jury. The charges contained in the indictment are just allegations. The accused are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a judicial court.
The matter is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, Cartersville Police Department, and the Homeland Security Investigations for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The issue is being prosecuted by the United States Assistant Attorneys Michael Herskowitz and Alana Black.
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