A 22-year-old woman was sentenced Wednesday in Salinas to jail time and probation after she admitted to committing welfare fraud to support her drug habit, prosecutors said. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Russell Scott sentenced Lorena Cervantes to 280 days in jail following her Jan. 8 guilty plea to illegally selling electronic benefit transfer cards, Deputy District Attorney Rick Storms said.
The case began on Feb. 12, 2013, when investigators from the special investigations unit of the district attorney’s office received an anonymous tip that Cervantes had been selling her benefit cards, known as EBT cards, according to Storms. EBT cards are issued in the place of cash and checks to provide government public assistance funds, Storms said. Prosecutors learned from an investigation that Cervantes had been issued 11 EBT cards over three months after claiming to government employees that she had lost her other cards.
Investigators went to different locations where Cervantes’ cards were used and based on surveillance video footage, they determined that she had never used any of the cards, prosecutors said. When investigators interviewed Cervantes, she admitted to selling the cards to other people in order to finance her addiction to methamphetamine, Storms said. The judge sentenced her to the jail term and an additional three years of felony probation, Storms said.
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