4 admit scamming federal program for deaf

The News Leader

March 5, 2010 5:26:55 PM PST
Four former owners and employees of three companies have pleaded guilty to defrauding a federal program that assists the deaf. Each pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Trenton to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Kim Hawkins, owner of Nevada-based Master Communications and Arizona-based KL Communications; Hawkins' business partner, Larry Berke; Alfia Iskandarova, a former interpreter for New York and New Jersey-based Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services, and Robert Rubeck of Surprise, Ariz., face maximum sentences of 20 years.

Prosecutors say they submitted more than $2.5 million in fraudulent billings to the FCC's Video Relay Service program, which helps people with hearing disabilities make phone calls using interpreters and Web cameras.