Dem who opposed welfare fraud measure indicted – for food stamp fraud
By Brooke Singman
Published June 24, 2016
An Arizona Democratic lawmaker who once voted against welfare fraud protections in her state has been indicted on felony charges of defrauding the food stamp program.
According to the indictment unsealed earlier this week, state Rep. Cecilia Velasquez was charged with three felony counts: unlawful use of food stamps, fraudulent schemes and practices, and theft.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security began investigating Velasquez in 2014. According to the Arizona DES, Velasquez fraudulently used $1,726 worth of food stamps between 2013 and 2015.
This past February, Velasquez had voted against a bill aimed at giving the same state agency stronger anti-fraud tools – a program that could have quickly detected her alleged fraudulent activity.
According to this AP-written article (sorry, Fox News haters, this story is real), Velasquez was charged with falsely claiming she has 2 dependents, giving a false address, and allowing her EBT card to be used by persons other than herself. Evidently, this isn’t Rep. Velasquez’s initial experience with being a scofflaw.
Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, AZ legislators make $24,000 per year, plus “$35/day for the first 120 days of the regular session and for special sessions and $10/day thereafter. Members residing outside Maricopa County receive an additional $25/day for the first 120 days of the regular session and for special sessions and an additional $10/day thereafter.” Litchfield Park is in Maricopa County, so Velasquez is not eligible for the additional $25/day per diem. So, in 2015 Velasquez would have received $24K, plus - probably - more than $4200 in per diem.
Velasquez’s bio page on the AZ Legislature website lists her profession as Paralegal, and she has worked both for a practicing attorney, and (more recently?) for the State of AZ in social services (the time frame for the indictment places the start of her welfare fraud before being elected to the legislature, back in the time when she worked for AZ social services). Her bio states that she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Looks like that plan may have been derailed, or maybe detoured into up close and personal firsthand experience therewith.