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Couple faces welfare fraud; second time they've been charged

WILLMAR -- Ernesto Pacheco Nieto, 49, and Susana Nieto, 42, of Willmar, made their first court appearances Thursday on felony charges of wrongfully obtaining assistance for taking more than $7,000 in public benefits while he was employed.

Unconditional bail was set at $10,000 for both, with conditional release allowed on their personal recognizance. Both make their next appearances on Feb. 16 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

According to court files, this is the second time the couple has been charged with welfare fraud in the county. In 1998, both were charged after they received assistance but failed to report that she was working as a hotel housekeeper under a false name. Ernesto Nieto pleaded guilty 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 Kandiyohi County 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 $1,116.85 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. 

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