ALBANY, N.Y. -- A local couple, paid to work on special assignments for the U.S. government, are facing charges of welfare fraud.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said Lailuma Meherdil, 44, and her husband Amirjan Hayattulah, 47, are both facing charges of Welfare Fraud, Grand Larceny and Offering a False Instrument for Filing.
The Albany County Sheriff's Office says the husband and wife are both currently at the county jail, after the two allegedly applied for and received welfare benefits and housing at Manor Sites, run by the Cohoes Housing Authority.
Apple said the couple failed to claim the over $150,000 income they were making working as government contractors. The welfare benefits they allegedly received exceeded $3,000, according to court documents.
The vehicle was stopped by authorities and they say they found Amirjian Hayatullah in the rear passenger seat.
In court, prosecutors alleged that Meherdil was employed as a translator for contractor SOS International LLC, and that her husband worked for another U.S. contractor as an actor.
His attorney says Hayattulah played "indigenous characters" during military training exercises.
Apple credits good investigative work by the Department of Social Services for first detecting discrepancies in this case.
Meherdil was arrested on Thursday, January 23, by Albany County Sheriff's Investigators. However, her husband was unable to be apprehended after surveillance on their residence.
On Friday, January 31, Meherdil, who was incarcerated, wrote a letter to Sheriff's Investigators. She stated in the letter that she had received a visit from her husband. He allegedly told Meherdil that if she revealed his hiding location, he would kill her.
Sheriff's Investigators resumed surveillance at the home and found the couple's son, Neshta Hayatullah, leaving the home. Teams followed the son, according to Albany County Sheriff's, and witnessed a man exiting a wooded area and entering the son's vehicle.
Hayatollah pleaded not guilty to the charges. His son, Neshat Hayatullah, is also facing an obstruction charge for allegedly helping his father evade police.