10 with US resident status accused of benefits fraud

2014-07-14T18:30:00Z 2014-07-15T19:19:20Z 10 with US resident status accused of benefits fraudBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

State prosecutors have charged 10 Mexican citizens with U.S. residency status of fraudulently obtaining public assistance benefits, including Social Security and Medicaid.

Prosecutors with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office accuse the defendants, many who live in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, of using their U.S. residency status to apply for public assistance using bogus addresses on the American side of the border in San Luis.

Assistant Arizona Attorney Mike Jette said several of the defendants used the same physical address to apply for benefits, although their public assistance checks were all sent to different post office boxes in San Luis.

In one case, more than $140,000 of a defendant’s medical care was paid by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona’s version of Medicaid.

The same defendant also received more than $45,000 in Social Security Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Others received tens of thousands of dollars in SSI cash assistance.

“Regardless of the dollar amount, you can’t take taxpayer money that you’re not entitled to,” Jette said.

Prosecutors allege the defendants of falsified the applications required to qualify for benefits.

Applicants for public benefits must prove a financial need by submitting proof of income and assets.

In addition, the applicant must show U.S. residency to receive a benefit.

To receive AHCCCS, an applicant must reside in the state.

The indictments filed Yuma County Superior Court accuse J. Guadalupe Rocha-Quinonez, Alicia Galvan Munoz, Cayetano Sandoval Mondaca, Jose Rojelio Acuna Vasquez, Jose Santos Rodriguez Alvarado, Leonor Gurrola de Reyes, Maria Guadalupe Hernandez, Maria Luisa Lucero Espinoza, Rosalio Villareal Gonzalez and Ubentina Mora de Santoyo of multiple charges including fraudulent schemes and artifices, forgery and theft.

Federal and state investigators attempted to verify the residency of more than 900 beneficiaries in San Luis. They were unable to establish residency of 270 of those.

SSI officials have ceased payment of benefits for the 270 beneficiaries.

Jette said more indictments will likely follow.

Nearly all of San Luis’ 26,000 residents receive mail at post office boxes because the U.S. Postal Service does not offer home delivery in the town.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@tucson.com. On Twitter @pm929.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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