Valley pastor and family sentenced in fraud scheme

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix pastor who got into zoning trouble with his church on private property has been sentenced along with his wife and brother in a fraud scheme.

According to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, Michael Salman, 39, his wife Suzanne Salman, 34, and his brother Frank Salman, 37, were sentenced to probation in Maricopa County Superior Court last week. They were also ordered to pay fines and restitution, which totaled more than $119,000.

"I am pleased with the outcome of this case," Horne said. "When people commit fraud against a state agency that is designed to provide assistance to those who are truly in need, it is those taxpayers and people who really need the aid that get ripped off. These kinds of schemes will not be tolerated."

Michael and Suzanne lied about how much money they made from their credit card processing company between 2008 and 2012, to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, according to Horne.

"The mother said she wasn't working, she had to stay home and take care of the children, which wasn't true," Horne said.

The couple and their six daughters received free health care through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's Medicaid program.

Horne said between May 2007 and March 2012, Frank Salman lied about his income to DES in order receive AHCCCS health insurance benefits for himself, his spouse and his children.

Before sentencing, Michael and Suzanne Salman paid AHCCCS full restitution of $73,808.92. Michael Salman pleaded guilty to one count of Theft, and one count of Forgery, and was sentenced to three years probation for each count. He also must pay a fine of $9,200.00 and complete 40 hours of community service.

Suzanne Salman was sentenced to six months probation and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.

Frank Salman also paid AHCCCS full restitution of $45,304.16 prior to sentencing. He pleaded guilty to one count of Theft, was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.

Zoning Problems

Michael was previous in the news for his dispute with the City of Phoenix over a building on his property. The city said he didn't have the proper permits to have a church on private property. But Michael claimed it was a game room.

Michael fought the allegations, but the city ended up winning. The building also had several code violations. He served 60 days in jail.