COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Bexley woman was sentenced to six months in prison for extortion in her former role as a federal probation officer.
Helwa H. Qasem, 45, pleaded guilty in June to extortion under color of official right. She was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. She faced the possibility of 20 years.
With her plea, Qasem admitted to accepting cash, pills, goods, and services from parolees under her supervision.
In her role as a probation officer, Qasem was required to report those under her supervision who violated the terms of their probation or supervised release.
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 did 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 said 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.
Upon her release from prison, Qasem will be ordered to serve three years of supervised release with the first six months being under home detention.