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Pair face felony counts

FAIRMONT — A Fairmont man and woman are facing felony charges in Martin County.

Viridiana Sugey Ornelas-Martinez, 30, and Rigoberto Chapa Vega, 34, each have been charged with one count of wrongfully obtaining assistance, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Both also have been charged with one count of perjury, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

According to the complaint:

On Aug. 15, 2019, a fraud investigator received a phone call from an anonymous party who said Ornelas-Martinez was employed under an alias of Danielle Jimenez at Fairmont Foods and Vega was employed under the alias of Marcos Avalos, also at Fairmont Foods. The caller said both were receiving public assistance and not reporting their employment income to Human Services.

The investigator checked public assistance records and confirmed that Ornelas-Martinez and Vega were receiving public assistance under the Minnesota Family Investment Program through Martin County Human Services. The investigator notified the human resources representative at Fairmont Foods that Jimenez and Avalos were working there using stolen identities. The investigator provided photo IDs of Ornelas-Martinez and Vega, which were confirmed as Jimenez and Avalos.

Payroll records obtained from Fairmont Foods were provided to a Martin County Human Services financial worker to calculate overpayments of public assistance provided to Ornelas-Martinez and Vega due to them not reporting their employment or income.

Records showed that Ornelas-Martinez had completed an application on Dec. 11, 2015, for MFIP assistance, on which she reported no income for her or Vega. The application advises that she has to report any changes in income for herself and Vega within 10 days.

On Nov. 1, 2016, Ornelas-Martinez filled out another application form recertifying her for receipt of MFIP assistance. Once again she reported no income for her or her household.

There were multiple other occurrences of Ornelas-Martinez and Vega signing paperwork for MFIP assistance.

Because Ornelas-Martinez and Vega allegedly lied on the forms they submitted to Human Services, they received public assistance totaling $31,025 to which they were not entitled.

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