Eagle County woman guilty of welfare fraud, recovered total tops $200,000 this year
EAGLE — An Eagle woman has admitted to almost $21,000 of welfare fraud.
Nancy Chairez-Hernandez, 33, from Eagle, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years probation, and has to repay $20,922.73 that she bilked out of Eagle County Heath and Human Services, and pay $2,858.50 in court costs and fees.
She is now disqualified from ever receiving any government assistance as a result of her felony conviction.
“Over the past several months, we have been able to obtain court orders that offenders pay back approximately $200,000 that have been stolen from the government by fraudulently obtaining governmental benefits,” said District Attorney Bruce Brown.
Between May 2012 and January 2017, Chairez-Hernandez fraudulently applied for Medicaid for herself and household members. She failed to disclose her husband’s income during these years while receiving thousands of dollars in public assistance benefits for herself and her children.
Had truthful disclosure occurred, she would not have been eligible for the governmental assistance received, Brown said.
In March 2016, an anonymous tip showed up at Eagle County Health and Human Services received an anonymous tip sent to the county’s welfare fraud website, that Chairez-Hernandez was receiving public assistance benefits, but was also living with her husband whose income was not included in her application to Eagle County Health and Human Services. That kicked off the investigation by Eagle County Sheriff’s detectives.
“Defrauding programs that support families in need or those designed to fight hunger serving low-income Americans is reprehensible,” Brown said.
In one of the most spectacular cases of welfare fraud, Karen Iuele admitted she committed welfare fraud in Eagle County while she was in custody in Garfield County for forgery and theft.
In fact, on the day Iuele pleaded guilty in a Pitkin County case, she renewed her application for food stamps and Medicaid through Eagle County’s human services department.
When Iuele was incarcerated in Rifle and applying for food stamps and Medicaid, she used her address in the Eagle County corner of the Roaring Fork Valley.
Like Chairez-Hernandez, Iuele was caught when someone sent a tip that Iuele had income that she had not reported.
According to court documents, Iuele claimed:
• She was not married. She was actually married, and court documents show that her husband’s income alone would have disqualified them from welfare benefits.
• Her daughter was living with her. She was not.
• She failed to list that she was a felony probation violator.
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