A Tulare County judge has sentenced Carmen Villarreal, 41, of Orosi to seven months in jail for embezzlement at her welfare job at the county Health and Human Services Agency.
Villarreal, a self-sufficiency support assistant, pleaded no contest this month to embezzlement and falsifying accounts as a public employee, welfare fraud and identity theft, all felonies.
The case broke in late 2015 when a client reported that she had asked for her case file to be closed, only to learn later that it had remained open and benefits were being issued and used in her name.
Investigators found that between February and October 2015, Villarreal collected Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and personal identification numbers from clients whose accounts were to be closed. She kept the accounts open and used the cards, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office said.
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Villarreal will be on three years’ probation and was ordered to pay restitution of $1,009.18.