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Clara City couple enter pleas in welfare fraud case

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WILLMAR -- A Clara City couple have entered pleas to amended felony charges for claiming more than $21,000 in public assistance while he worked under a false name.

Sandra Veronica Martinez, 35, pleaded guilty Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court to a lower level felony charge of wrongfully obtaining assistance. Under a plea agreement, another charge for failing to meet declaration requirements for public assistance will be dismissed. She will be sentenced March 8.

Isidoro Martinez pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to a similar charge. A check forgery charge was dismissed on Dec. 15 for lack of probable cause. He will be sentenced Feb. 12.

Martinez is also known as Bentino Narvaiz Jr. The original complaint against the couple notes that they had lived in Willmar, but left the state and moved to North Dakota. Court documents now list a Clara City address.

According to the complaint, the couple applied for assistance from Kandiyohi County Family Services in October 2003.

Their request was approved and, as recipients of assistance, they were required to report income and employment to the county. Isidoro Martinez was listed as in the country illegally and, therefore, not able to work.

An investigation, spawn-ed by an anonymous tip, revealed that he had been working under the false Narvaiz name for Labor Choice since the third quarter of 2002.

His income was not reported, resulting in an overpayment of benefits of $21,065.32 between Dec. 1, 2003, and Oct. 31, 2006. Documents also showed he had endorsed several payments in the false name.

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. 

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