SAN BERNARDINO – Ten people were indicted by a federal grand jury for stealing government benefits “well in excess of $1,000 each,” according to records released by U.S. officials on Tuesday.
One of the 10 charged lives out of state, while the remaining nine are residents of both San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
The 10 defendants named in a U.S. Department of Justice news release include San Bernardino County residents William Edward Catchings, 71, of Pomona; Gilbert Jose Leon Guerrero, 65, of Chino; Michelle Kay Jarrett, 42, of Lytle Creek; Linda Marie Phillips, 59, of Fontana; and Richard Victor Schmitz, 67, of Loma Linda.
The four Riverside County defendants charged were Valerie M. Ikeda, 45, Moreno Valley; Michael Leslie Snyder, 66, Riverside; Marta Urbina, 64, of Riverside; and Betty Jean Vieira, 66, Moreno Valley. The tenth defendant, Carmen Eugenia Tallman, 67, is listed from Kent, Washington.
A media release stated that none of the defendants has entered a plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph B. Widman from the Central District of California declined to report the amounts each had been accused of stealing, though he did report each crime was committed separately and in various methods. Six of the defendants are also charged with making false statements to the government to fraudulently obtain government benefits. One also is accused of presenting a false document to a government agency. A $1,000 theft is the benchmark required to file felony charges.
Thefts were described as ranging from cashing government checks that were sent to deceased relatives, to receiving Social Security benefits under one number while working under a different number. Others are alleged to have lied about the distance they lived from Veteran’s Administration hospitals in order to receiver higher travel allowances.
Widman, who said investigations continue into fraudulent means of getting illegal payments, described various offices contributing to seeking out criminal involvement. The U.S. Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General all worked on the investigations.
Press-Enterprise: Residents accused of stealing government benefits