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Press Release

Illegal Alien Sentenced to Prison for Theft of U.S. Government Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Fraudulently Obtained Welfare Benefits by Failing to Report Husband’s Income Using a Stolen Identity

A woman who failed to disclose her husband’s income when applying for welfare benefits was sentenced today to two months in federal prison.

Cleotilde Puac-Gomez, age 46, a citizen of Guatemala illegally present in the United States and residing in Clarion, Iowa, received the prison term after a February 6, 2019, guilty plea to one count of theft of U.S. government funds.

In a plea agreement, Puac-Gomez, an illegal alien, admitted she failed to report her husband’s income when applying for, and receiving, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid benefits between June 2012 and November 2017.  During that time period, her husband Melvin Rodriguez-Barrios, also an illegal alien, was working under an alias and used someone else’s social security number to obtain work.  By failing to accurately report the family’s income, Puac-Gomez received $19,908.30 in overpayment of food stamps and other welfare benefits in funds belonging to the United States and distributed by the State of Iowa.

Rodriguez-Barrios, age 44, was sentenced on March 27, 2019, to six months’ imprisonment following a January 2, 2019, bench trial finding him guilty of three counts of unlawful use of an identification document and four counts of misuse of a social security number.

Puac-Gomez was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Puac-Gomez was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.  She was ordered to make $19,908.30 in restitution to the State of Iowa.  She must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Puac-Gomez is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until she can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Tvedt and investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Investigation Division - Economic Fraud Control Bureau. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 18-CR-3044.

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Updated May 31, 2019

Financial Fraud