News and Press Releases

Wanda Sue Venegas Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on November 10, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, WANDA SUE VENEGAS, a 41-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to theft of federal property by fraud. Sentencing is set for February 10, 2010. She is currently released on special conditions.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

Between September 2004 and May 2008, VENEGAS made false statements on her applications, reports, and recertifications in order to receive food stamps, Medicaid benefits, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. VENEGAS also falsified rental verifications in order to conceal the number of household members who resided with her.

Specifically, VENEGAS concealed by omission and misrepresentation the fact that her husband was living in the household, was employed, and was contributing significant earned income to the family's financial condition.

As a result, VENEGAS received $18,438 in food stamp benefits, $15,256 in Medicaid benefits, and $1,560 in TANF benefits to which she was not entitled.

On April 16, 2008, VENEGAS admitted that her husband resided with her the entire time their benefits were received and that he was employed.

On April 22, 2008, VENEGAS provided E. VENEGAS' Internal Revenue Service Forms W-2 and 1099 for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, along with a statement which included an apology for concealing his income and an admission that they had not filed income tax returns for any of these years.

Total loss amount is $35,254.

VENEGAS faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Office of Inspector General.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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