Weather Forecast


Husband pleads to welfare fraud, wife's charge to be dismissed

WILLMAR -- Ernesto Pacheco Nieto, 49, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to an amended felony charge of wrongfully obtaining assistance for taking more than $7,000 in public benefits while he was employed.

As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, the charge was reduced from a higher-level felony and a felony charge against his wife, Susana Nieto, 42, of Willmar, will be dismissed. Ernesto Nieto will also pay $1,000 in restitution on his sentencing date, Aug. 17, and $350 per month until the $7,116.85 is paid back to county family services.

According to court files, this is the second time the couple was charged with welfare fraud in the county. In 1998, both were charged after they received assistance but failed to report that Susana was working as a hotel housekeeper under a false name. Ernesto Nieto pleaded guilty in that case to a gross misdemeanor charge and Susana to an aggravated forgery charge for using the false identification. They were ordered to pay $2,431 back to family services.

According to the current complaint, since 1998 the couple has received assistance and has supplied numerous forms to family services reporting changes to employment, income and household composition. However, in July 2008, he got a job at The Command Center and a child got work at Jennie-O Turkey Store. Neither job was reported to family services, resulting in an overpayment of $7,116.85 in medical assistance and food stamps between August and December 2008.

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