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Courts and Crime

Judge Tosses All But One Charge Against Defendant in Welfare Fraud Case

A new development in what is expected to be a three-week-long trial involving a Somali couple charged with welfare fraud — a judge on Monday dismissed 14 of 15 counts against one of the defendants. The state’s case against Abdi Hassan that was supposed to begin Tuesday has now been postponed pending a further ruling from the court.

Forty-seven-old Abdi Hassan was originally charged with 15 counts of welfare fraud by the state, but now all but one of the charges has been dismissed after Androscoggin Superior Court Justice Susan Oram determined that the Maine attorney general’s office had failed to disclose pertinent information in the case.

In his motion to the court, Hassan’s attorney, Jim Howaniec, argued that state health and human services workers may have fraudulently signed documents that were offered as evidence in the case. Justice Oram said in her dismissal order the case had been pending for far too long and that the new fraud disclosure arrived too late to allow the defense attorney enough time to prepare before trial.

Howaniec said it was not clear to him when, or if, the trial against his client will move forward.

This story was originally published May 15, 2017 at 6:06 p.m.