AUBURN — The trial of a Lewiston couple charged with obtaining nearly $60,000 in federal housing assistance while failing to disclose extensive real estate holdings and income has started.

Forty-five-year-old Roda Abdi and her husband, 53-year-old Ali-Nassir Ahmed, are charged with theft by deception, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The Sun Journal reports that prosecutors said Tuesday the couple falsely accepted U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidies over six years for which they weren’t eligible. The couple lived in a federally subsidized apartment while they owned and operated a profitable market.

Prosecutors say when the couple claimed on forms they had no assets, $81,000 had been deposited in their bank.

Lawyers for the couple say much of the evidence is hearsay with no basis in fact.

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