TULARE COUNTY – Thirty-two people were arrested last week in fraud cases totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars.
On July 19, criminal investigators from the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations served 32 total felony arrest warrants on suspects wanted for allegedly committing welfare and auto insurance fraud in Tulare County.
The following 28 individuals were arrested and booked into the Tulare County Pretrial Facility or cited for welfare fraud: Mayra Alcauter, 22, of Tulare; Katherine Benitez, 29, of Ivanhoe; Richard Esparza, 43, of Visalia; Tamara Harmon, 27, of Visalia; Guadalupe Centeno, 20, of Visalia; Maurice Lacy, 37, of Visalia; Kay Lopez, 41, of Porterville; Guadalupe Martinez, 47, of Porterville; Jazelle Padilla, 25, Visalia; Selena Renteria, 35, of Visalia; Fabiola Rivas, 44, of Visalia; Isabel Robles, 51, of Visalia; Elaine Sanchez, 53, of Dinuba; Alma Sanchez, 20, of Porterville; Octavio Silva, 32, of Visalia; Diana Vorhies, 49, of Visalia; Arturo Cabrera, 24, of Farmersville; Erika Alcantar, 40, of Porterville; Jose Sanchez, 44, of Porterville; Elvira De La Cruz, 41, of Farmersville; Vanessa Johnson, 44, of Visalia; Lisa Agundis, 19, of Porterville; Jorge Gonzalez, 21, of Farmersville; Jessica McKay, 19, of Tulare; Socorro Campos, 69, of Visalia; Pamela Goldstein, 41, of Visalia; Brittany Dowdy, 25, of Visalia; and Sheila Bell, age 32, of Porterville.
The total amount of alleged welfare fraud in all of these cases was $261,023.00. In 2018, the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations identified $989,685 in fraudulent benefits, resulting in felony criminal charges being filed on 85 cases. The fraudulent activity in these cases included activities such as failing to report income, failing to report changes in household composition, and the trafficking of EBT benefits for financial gain.
During the same timeperiod, investigators served four felony arrest warrants on suspects wanted for allegedly committing auto insurance fraud in Tulare County. The following individuals were arrested and booked into the Tulare County Pretrial Facility or cited: John Martinez, 29, of Ivanhoe; Kristy Sandoval, 43, of Ivanhoe; Joseph Crumm, 53, of Visalia; and Ismelda Orozco, 51, of Visalia.
The total amount of alleged auto insurance fraud in all of these cases was $8,301.00.
Since last summer, the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations received over 70 referrals and reports alleging fraudulent auto insurance claims. The fraudulent activity in these cases included activities such as obtaining coverage for a vehicle after an accident has occurred, false reporting a vehicle theft or accident for financial gain, and claimant fraud such as false reporting of the driver of a vehicle or other circumstances related to a claim. It is a felony for an individual to make a false statement or misrepresentation of material facts in order to obtain over $950 of insurance claims that they were not entitled to receive.
Penalties for fraud can range from suspension or elimination of benefits, restitution, probation, and jail or prison terms.