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Document and Benefit Fraud
05/31/2019

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Guatemalan illegal alien residing in Iowa sentenced for benefit fraud

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — An illegal alien from Guatemala was sentenced in federal court Friday for fraudulently drawing welfare assistance.

This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Investigation Division’s Economic Fraud Control Bureau. 

Cleotilde Puac-Gomez, 46, a citizen of Guatemala who is illegally residing in the U.S. in Clarion, Iowa, was sentenced to two months in federal prison after pleading guilty Feb. 6, 2019, to one count of theft of U.S. government funds.

In her plea agreement, Puac-Gomez admitted she failed to report her husband’s income when applying for, and receiving, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid benefits between June 2012 and November 2017.  During that time, her husband Melvin Rodriguez-Barrios, also an illegal alien, was working under an alias and used someone else’s social security number to obtain work.  By failing to accurately report the family’s income, Puac-Gomez received $19,908.30 in overpayment of food stamps and other U.S. welfare benefits distributed by the state of Iowa.

Puac-Gomez’s husband, Rodriguez-Barrios, 44, was previously sentenced on March 27 to six months’ imprisonment following a Jan. 2, 2019, bench trial which found him guilty of three counts of unlawfully using an identification document and four counts of misusing a social security number.

Puac-Gomez was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by U.S. District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  In addition to her prison sentence, she was ordered to make $19,908.30 in restitution to the state of Iowa, and she must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after she completes her prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Puac-Gomez is being held in U.S. Marshals custody until she can be transported to a federal prison.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel C. Tvedt, Northern District of Iowa.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/03/2019