BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Two women in Texas were sentenced to prison for committing more than $1 million in food stamp fraud.
Anna Rioja and Maria Consuelo de Ureno, both of Brownsville, Texas, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit and committing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud, prosecutors said.
An investigation revealed that beginning in 2016, Ureno, Rioja and others swapped SNAP benefits for cash using a point-of-sale device at a store owned by Rioja, KWTX reported. Prosecutors said the group also made fraudulent transactions at Sam’s Wholesale Club.
In a news release, prosecutors said they found a total of 715 fraudulent transactions linked to 83 SNAP recipients which Rioja and Ureno redeemed for money or food. In total, the pair’s fraudulent purchases totaled to: 49.1 tons of American cheese slices, 22.3 tons of pinto beans, 1.6 tons of Folgers coffee, 1.4 tons of instant mashed potatoes and over 5,000 gallons of mayonnaise. Prosecutors said the food was sold to a partner and taken to Mexico.
A judge sentenced Rioja to 30 months in prison and one year of supervised release, KTVT reported. Ureno was sentenced to 37 months in prison and a three-year term of supervised release, according to the station. Ureno also risks losing her legal status in the U.S.
Rioja was also ordered to pay $975,401 in restitution, while Ureno was ordered to pay $1,284,282, KWTX reported.