Albuquerque Barber Sentenced for Defrauding the Federal Food Stamp Program
ALBUQUERQUE – Joshua Moya, 33, of Albuquerque, N.M., was sentenced this morning in federal court to six months in prison, or time served, followed by three years of supervised release for defrauding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as the “Food Stamp” Program. Moya also was ordered to pay $2,444.00 in restitution.
Moya is one of six Albuquerque residents charged with defrauding the Food Stamp Program in a 32-count indictment that was filed in Aug. 2014. The indictment alleged that between Sept. 2009 to May 2010, Joseph Martin Padilla, 33, conspired with Moya, Sergio Escobedo, 36, Veronica Hernandez, 44, Justin Quintana, 28, and Wilfredo Lopez, 46, to defraud the United States through the unauthorized use of Food Stamp benefits, which are currently called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. During this time, Padilla worked as a Family Assistance Analyst for the Income Support Division of the New Mexico Human Services Department where he allegedly was responsible for determining applicants’ eligibility and benefit level for SNAP benefits.
According to the indictment, SNAP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is administered by the States. The program was created to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, and permits low income households to obtain more nutritious diet by increasing the food purchasing power for eligible households. In New Mexico, individuals qualify to participate in SNAP based on income and need by completing an application with the Income Support Division of the New Mexico Human Services Department. Once an applicant is deemed eligible for SNAP benefits by a Family Assistance Analyst, the Analyst establishes a SNAP account in the applicant’s name and electronic benefit transfers (EBT), which are determined based on income, resources and household size, are deposited into the account on a monthly basis.
Count 1 of the indictment alleges that Padilla abused his position as a Family Assistance Analyst to conspire with his co-defendants to defraud the United States through the unauthorized use of SNAP benefits. It alleges that Padilla used names and personal identifiers he obtained from his co-defendants to establish fraudulent SNAP accounts, sometimes in exchange for cash or other things of value. Count 2 alleges that Padilla established a fraudulent SNAP account and used the account to fraudulently obtain approximately $1,468.00 in SNAP benefits for himself. Counts 3 through 27 of the indictment allege that Padilla fraudulently established 25 separate SNAP accounts through which the United States was defrauded of approximately $45,263.00 in SNAP benefits. Counts 28 through 32 allege that Padilla, aided and abetted by his co-defendants, fraudulently established SNAP accounts that were used to fraudulently obtain an aggregate of $12,705.00 in SNAP benefits.
On March 9, 2015, Moya entered a guilty plea to Count 31 of the indictment and admitted that he fraudulently obtained SNAP benefits to which he was not entitled. In his plea agreement, Moya admitted that in early Dec. 2009, Padilla approached him while he was working in an Albuquerque barber shop and provided him with an application to obtain food stamps. Moya admitted knowing that Padilla worked for the State of New Mexico and had the ability to register him for SNAP benefits. Moya completed the application and returned it to Padilla for processing even though he knew that he was not entitled to SNAP benefits. Moya admitted unlawfully receiving $866.00 in SNAP benefits. Moya also admitted providing another application for SNAP benefits to a family member and that his relative unlawfully received $1,578.00 in SNAP benefits.
Padilla and his four remaining co-defendants have entered not guilty pleas to the charges in the indictment. Charges in indictments are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J. Sullivan.