2 women sent to prison for committing $1.2M in food stamp fraud

Two women are facing prison time for committing $1.2 million in food stamp fraud in Texas.
Two women are facing prison time for committing $1.2 million in food stamp fraud in Texas.(KWCH)
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:19 AM PST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Two women were given prison sentences following convictions for $1.2 million in food stamp fraud.

Ana Rioja, 51, and Maria Consuelo de Ureno, 55, pleaded guilty on May 12, 2021, to conspiring to commit and committing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program fraud, reported by KWTX.

U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera Jr. handed Rioja a 30-month term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by one year of supervised release.

Ureno received 37 months followed by a three-year term of supervised release. She could also face loss of her legal status in the U.S. and removal proceedings following her release from prison.

The judge also ordered Rioja and Ureno to pay $975,401 and $1,284,282.15 in restitution.

According, to investigators, Ureno, Rioja and other co-conspirators exchanged SNAP benefits for cash by using a point of sale device at a local meat market Rioja owned in February 2016.

Authorities also discovered Ureno and others conducted fraudulent transactions at Sam’s Club.

The investigation revealed 715 fraudulent transactions were linked to 83 unique SNAP benefit recipients that were redeemed for cash or food.

Ureno’s fraudulent purchases totaled approximately 49.1 tons of American cheese slices, 22.3 tons of pinto beans, 1.6 tons of Folgers coffee, 1.4 tons of instant mashed potatoes and over 5,000 gallons of mayonnaise, which she would sell to a partner and was transported to Mexico.

Investigators say between September 2014 and August 2019, both women conducted approximately $1.2 million in fraudulent transactions.

Ureno will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Rioja was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender at a date to be determined in the near future.

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