U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced Dec. 20, that Tariq Butt, 42, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of theft of government funds, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.
Butt was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $305,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who handled the case, said that in February 2015, Butt and his wife, Halima Mohammed, opened Twinkle Stars Day Care Center, and in July 2015, the couple opened Candyland Daycare, both located in the City of Buffalo.
According to Buffalo News, O’Donnell said Butt could face deportation to his native country.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that between January 2016 and September 2016, Butt submitted hundreds of false and fraudulent claims to Erie County. The claims sought reimbursement for daycare services supposedly provided by Twinkle Stars and Candyland to children eligible for Child Care and Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Prosecutors say Butt knew that the children listed on the claims did not actually attend Twinkle Stars on the dates and times claimed, making the daycare ineligible for reimbursement.
In total, between January 2016 and September 2016, Erie County paid Twinkle Stars and Candyland approximately $305,000 for daycare services, which were never rendered.
Halima Mohamed was previously convicted and sentenced to five months in prison and three years supervised release, to include five months home detention.