Weather Forecast


Pleas entered in forgery, $68K welfare fraud cases

WILLMAR -- Jesus Elizabeth Vasquez, 32, and Ovidio Ochoa, 36, of Willmar, have both pleaded guilty to one felony count of wrongfully obtaining assistance for collecting more than $68,000 in public assistance while also working under false names.

The pleas were entered Thursday in Kandiyohi County District Court. Four other charges against Vasquez for violating the declaration requirements for public assistance will be dismissed.

She is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 26. No sentencing date was set for Ochoa.

The pair also each pleaded guilty to one aggravated forgery charge. In return, each will have another forgery charge dismissed.

Ochoa is also known as Israel Torres Marrero or Israel Torres, and Vasquez was using the name of Tatiana Rodriguez Rivera.

According to the welfare fraud complaint, Vasquez applied for and obtained public assistance for herself and a daughter since 2002. She claimed the father of the child lived in Honduras. As a recipient of welfare benefits, she was obligated to report employment, income and household composition to family services officials.

She claimed that a "friend" named Israel Torres lived in her home. The man's real identity, as Ochoa, who was her husband, was not reported to the county.

An investigation revealed that both Ochoa and Vasquez worked for Jennie-O Turkey Store under false identities. Their income was not reported to the county.

Both were interviewed by investigators and allegedly admitted to lying about their relationship. Ochoa allegedly said they did so to "get ahead." The overpayment of welfare benefits totals $68,368.23 from September 2002 to July 2009, the complaint says.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

(320) 214-4373