COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A Bexley woman has pleaded guilty to extorting parolees under her supervision as a federal probation officer, accepting money, drugs, goods, and services from people she supervised.
Helwa H. Qasem, 44, of Bexley, pleaded guilty to extortion under color of official right, the U.S. Attorney Office for the Southern District of Ohio said in a press release Tuesday.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, from 2016 to 2018, Qasem accepted Xanax, money, a sweater, a bag, and “below-market personal services” from parolees under her supervision as well as their family members.
In exchange, Qasem would not report violations committed by those parolees.
Two people under Qasem’s supervision and the spouse of a third gave her Xanax for her personal use, according to court records.
Qasem also admitted to receiving personal services, which the attorney’s office said included moving services, various repairs around her home like fixing blinds, a dryer, a dishwasher, and a washing machine, and mechanic services for her personal vehicle, the attorney’s office said. A person under Qasem’s supervision arranged for the services, according to court records.
Court documents also state Qasem warned one of her parolees that someone the parolee knew was attempting to become a confidential informant for the Columbus police, allegedly telling the parolee to stay away from the potential informant.
As a probation officer, Qasem supervised offender who were sentenced to probation by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio or who were serving terms of supervised release after a prison term. As part of her duties, she was required to report people who violated the terms of their release.
Qasem faces up to 20 years in prison.