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Riverside County woman is charged with disability check fraud

March 15, 2012 |  7:34 pm

A Riverside County woman defrauded California of more than $283,000 by submitting 95 fraudulent state disability and unemployment claims over a four-year period, federal prosecutors alleged Thursday.

Maria Magdalena Rocha, 43, of Desert Hot Springs allegedly filed 83 disability and 12 unemployment claims with the state’s Employment Development Department using personal information of family, friends and co-workers without their knowledge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

To complete the false claims, Rocha allegedly submitted personal information of more than 50 people without their knowledge and forged medical certifications of more than 30 doctors between 2006 and 2010. The agency then mailed checks worth about $283,626 to addresses used by Rocha.

Rocha was arraigned Thursday afternoon in federal court in Riverside after turning herself in to authorities. She was released on $25,000 bond.

Rocha is charged with 18 counts of mail fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

Mail fraud charges carry a maximum 20-year federal prison sentence and each aggravated identity theft charge carries a maximum 2-year sentence to be run consecutively.


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