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February 27, 2014

SOCIAL SERVICES EMPLOYEE ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF STEALING NEARLY $150,000 FROM COUNTY IN IN-HOME CARETAKER FRAUD SCHEME

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:17 am

SANTA ANA – An employee of the Orange County Social Services Agency (SSA) has been arrested and charged with defrauding the Orange County Social Services Agency of nearly $150,000. Fereshteh Shafiee, 52, Mission Viejo, is charged with one felony count each of misappropriation of public funds and medical insurance fraud with sentencing enhancements and allegations for over $100,00 in loss, property loss over $65,000, and aggravated white collar crime over $100,000. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of eight years in state prison. Fereshteh Shafiee is being held on $150,000 bail and must prove the money is from a legal and legitimate source before posting bond. The defendant is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Feb. 27, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.

Co-defendant Nahid Bijaripour Vakilian, 55, Lake Forest, is charged with the same counts, sentencing enhancements, and faces the same maximum sentence as Fereshteh Shafiee.  A $150,000 warrant has been issued for her arrest. She is believed to be in Iran.

The defendant’s mother, Iran Shafiee, 72, Mission Viejo, is charged with one felony count of medical insurance fraud and faces the same sentencing enhancements as Fereshteh Shafiee. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison. A $150,000 warrant has been issued for her arrest.

Circumstances of the Case

At the time of the crime, Fereshteh Shafiee and Vakilian are accused of being friends and working for SSA. Vakilian was a supervisor for the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program.                                   Between 2002 and 2010, Fereshteh Shafiee is accused of working with Vakilian to defraud the County of approximately $150,000 from funds designated for care providers in the IHSS program.

In addition to her full-time job at SSA, Fereshteh Shafiee is accused of fraudulently claiming to be the full-time caretaker for her parents. She is accused of inflating the number of hours spent as a caretaker and claiming more hours than is legally permissible based on her parents’ conditions, despite not actually providing care for her parents or working the hours billed.

Over the course of several months, Fereshteh Shafiee is accused of billing for 509 hours of care a month. This was in addition to the 173 hours spent at her job at SSA. In a month with a total of 720 hours, Fereshteh Shafiee is accused of claiming to work 682 hours.

Vakilian is accused of approving Fereshteh Shafiee’s caretaker hours, knowing they were fraudulent. In exchange, Fereshteh Shafiee is accused of loaning Vakilian $150,000.

Despite having no medical condition that would require care, Iran Shafiee is accused of signing the fraudulent documentation claiming that her daughter was her caretaker and that the caretaker hours were completed as billed, despite these claims being false.

In 2010, SSA was conducting a review of the case files of their high-hour caretakers, which revealed several inconsistencies related Fereshteh Shafiee.  The case was submitted to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for investigation.

The OCDA investigated this case and arrested Fereshteh Shafiee today, Feb. 26, 2014.

Deputy District Attorney Sean O’Brien of the White Collar Crime Team is prosecuting the case.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 14HF0360 / February 26, 2014

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