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Welfare fraud charges filed in Worthington

WORTHINGTON -- Charges for wrongfully obtaining assistance and welfare fraud have been filed against a man who got an $85,000 workman's compensation settlement, then applied for assistance several months later without reporting his new assets.

According to the criminal complaint, Jamie Trujillo, 43, of Worthington, received the settlement of $85,853 in June 2008 for reportedly hurting his back on the job at JBS Swift.

In October 2008, he applied for financial assistance through the Nobles County Family Services Agency (NCFSA), and also signed applications in 2009 and 2010.

Trujillo also allegedly failed to report that he owned 24 acres of farmland in Nobles County.

The complaint states Trujillo's wife came to the NCFSA in March 2010 to ask that her husband's Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) funds be transferred from her husband's card to hers, because he had moved to California to work on their farm, leaving her and her children with no income.

She was asked to fill out a form reporting the change of income, and given an appointment date to return for a discussion with a case worker.

She allegedly never showed up for that meeting.

A fraud prevention investigator who went to the Trujillo home in Worthington to ask some questions was told Trujillo was home, but getting ready to leave for their farm in Fulda.

The farm is used to house goats and sheep, the investigator was told.

As she was leaving, she saw a vehicle in the driveway with California license plates.

County recordings show the farm owned by Trujillo has an estimated tax value of $89,000.

At the farm site, Trujillo spoke with the investigator, stating that the farm was not a business and he does not sell the animals for profit.

He allegedly stated he helps out a nearby farmer but does not get paid for his time.

Trujillo said he had gone to California to help a friend move, then had driven a car back that his friend had given him.

After the case was turned over to investigators at the Worthington Police Department, Trujillo's wife was questioned.

She allegedly stated her husband does all the paperwork and doesn't tell her what it is for or what she is signing.

She said she didn't know they had to report the income or the farm and denied speaking to anyone from the NCFSA.

Trujillo reportedly told the investigators he did receive paperwork stating he must report any income, and he admitted he had received the settlement and purchased land.

He said he had already reimbursed the NCFSA for $16,000 after reaching an agreement with the agency, and that he "doesn't owe them anything."

The complaint states that between 2008 and 2010, Trujillo received more than $36,000 in financial assistance.

He is charged with wrongfully obtaining assistance and welfare food stamp program fraud.

He faces a maximum combined penalty of 25 years incarceration and/or $110,000 in fines.

In an unrelated case, Susana Ochoa, 30, of Worthington, was also charged with wrongfully obtaining assistance and welfare food stamp program fraud.

The complaint states she failed to report to the NCFSA that she was receiving unemployment benefits and as a result was overpaid $3,400.

She allegedly told authorities she had been previously charged with welfare fraud concerning child care assistance.