An Ohio man with ties to Iranian royalty was busted for accepting thousands of dollars in food stamps and welfare, despite being a millionaire with a Swiss bank account.
Police raided the expansive estate of Ali Pascal Mahvi last week to investigate potential theft, Medicaid and welfare fraud.
“It’s outrageous to see a situation where somebody is living in a house almost worth a million dollars, a horse barn, driving luxury cars, have millions of dollars in overseas bank accounts and here they are accepting this type of assistance,” James R. Flaiz, Geauga County prosecutor, told Ohio NBC affiliate WKYC.
Investigators say Mahvi and his family own an 8,000 square foot home worth about $800,000, complete with horse stables and a four-car garage where detectives found a BMW and Lexus.
The family pays a $4,600 mortgage each month, a $567 cell phone bill, $200 in restaurant meals and $350 for cable TV.
The Mahvi’s claimed zero income on their Medicaid applications though, and received $300 per month for the past two years in food stamps. They borrowed $25,000 from friends, WKYC reports.
Authorities connected Mahvi to a $4.2 million Swiss bank account, but Mahvi says that account belonged to his father, Abolfath Mirza Mahvi, a member of the Iranian royalty and founder of several international businesses.
Prosecutors have not charged Mahvi or his family with a crime yet, and detectives are still investigating their assets.
Investigators say they deposit large amounts of cash in small increments. The Mahvis deposited at least $30,000 this year in six separate transactions, each under $10,000, investigators said.
The family deposited $4,000 Feb. 4 at 2:55 p.m., then, two minutes later, they deposited $6,000 in the same bank account. Several similar transactions were made in April and May, again minutes apart, the investigators said. Banks are required to notify the IRS of transactions of more than $10,000 under the Bank Secrecy Act.
Mahvi said he is “not a wealthy man,” and he is eligible for welfare aid despite the value of his home and possessions, according to WKYC.
“The allegations are not true,” he said. “I’m not guilty.”
Mahvi said his home and other assets do not disqualify him from using food stamps. “It was our right to apply [for food stamps] and I applied,” he said. “If you don’t like the [food stamp] system, change it.”
Pascal Mahvi is the author of a “Deadly Secrets of Iranian Princes: Audacity to Act,” a memoir about his life as a descendant of Iranian royalty.
Food stamps, also called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, are only available to people whose assets and income fall below a certain level. “Households whose incomes and other financial resources…are determined to be a substantial limiting factor in permitting them to obtain a more nutritious diet,” according to the federal law regulating food stamps.
Houses are not counted as assets when determining eligibility for food stamps, and Ohio does not consider the value of cars when counting assets for the program.
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