Local Newman couple pleads guilty in one of the largest food stamp fraud cases ever

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Saturday 22 January 2059 45335 Shares

Pictured above is Francisco and Christina Arteaga in happier times.

NEWMAN CA (WESTSIDE INDEX) - The former owner's of Arteaga's Masonry in Newman pleaded guilty in one the largest food stamp fraud cases ever in California.

Francisco and Christina Arteaga admitted defrauding the government out of 1.4 million dollars. The case involves funds from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.

Today they entered guilty pleas to three charges, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and theft of government funds.

Not only did the Arteaga's steal welfare benefits through his business, they also illegally received them for him and his family.

The Arteaga's had nothing to say as they entered federal court to admit their guilt. But their attorney did speak on their behalf.

“They acknowledged they made mistakes all along. The Arteaga's are good people, decent people, and hard working people. But he acknowledged they did what the government said they did”, said attorney Walt McKee.

What the government says they did was charge his customers SNAP accounts. But instead of purchasing items from the business they would get lesser amounts of cash instead.

“The couple would give them cash out of their pocket or under their phony business and then redeem the full amount of the SNAP benefits through the US Department of Agriculture”, said Assistant US Attorney Jim Chapman.

Investigators say this went on for nearly 5 years. At the time Francisco ran Ateaga's Masonry on 711 Sweetgum Ln, while his wife Christina worked the cash register. The business has since shut down.

Investigators say they began looking into the Arteaga's because the small business was processing nearly as many SNAP transactions as the larger Stanislaus County business's. They say it became clear they were illegally pocketing the money and allowing customers to misuse funds intended for poor families.

“They are facilitating the fraud by allowing customers to redeem these benefits designed to put food in children’s mouths so they could get cash instead and spend it on whatever they chose to spend it on. So this is a very important case”, said Chapman.

The Arteaga's face up to 10 years in prison for all three charges combined. They’ll be ordered to pay 1 point 4 million dollars in restitution and could face fines of 1 million dollars.

Attorney Walt McKey spoke on behalf of his client's Francisco and Christina Arteaga that sentencing in Stanislaus County jail be postponed until after Valentine's day February 14th 2018.

Both Francisco and Christina both acknowledged that being away from each other for the next 10 year's is like living a slow death.

This is a satirical website. Don't take it Seriously. It's a joke.

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