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Guaranteeing Checks: Pueblo County DA gets aggressive to stop welfare fraud

Nursing homes in Pueblo County couldn’t help but notice when some of their residents didn’t have enough money to pay their room and board yet, in fact, those residents were supposed to be receiving Social Security or other benefits to amply cover their nursing home expenses.

What was happening was those who were designated as the nursing home residents’ payees, which included relatives who either through power of attorney or through some government action had control over the residents’ finances, were spending those funds on themselves instead of giving them to the residents and their nursing homes.

The dollar amounts each person who has been committed of welfare fraud steals can be staggering.

Paul “Jake” Villegas, an investigator with the 10th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, this year did the grueling work leading to the prosecution of two particularly egregious welfare fraud cases.

According to court records provided by Villegas, the range in dollar amounts defrauded can be large. On the lower end, Catherine Kegg Schwartz of Pueblo County, between March 29, 2016, and June 30, 2017, was accused of defrauding about $5,366 from the Pueblo County Department of Human Services (DHS). She faced from one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

And on the higher end is Tiffany Marie Davis, also of Pueblo County. Her alleged illegal take from DHS was $21,779 between Oct. 4, 2014 and May 24, 2018. She faced from two to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000...

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A “community outcry”

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