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Willmar man receives similar sentence to wife in $68,000 welfare fraud case

WILLMAR -- Ovidio Ochoa, 36, of Willmar, was sentenced Monday to a year and a day of stayed prison time, 10 years of probation, 90 days in the county jail and 2,080 hours of community service work on felony charges of aggravated forgery and wrongfully obtaining assistance.

As part of his sentence, handed down by Judge Michael J. Thompson in Kandiyohi County District Court, Ochoa was ordered to pay $68,368.65 in restitution in the case. Under a plea agreement, four additional felony charges were dismissed.

Ochoa's wife, Jesus Elizabeth Vasquez, 32, of Willmar, was sentenced in October and received a similar sentence. She was also ordered to pay restitution. They were charged after an investigation by Kandiyohi County Family Services revealed the couple was collecting public assistance while both worked under false names.

Ochoa is also known as Israel Torres Marrero or Israel Torres.

Vasquez was using the alias Tatiana Rodriguez Rivera.

According to the welfare fraud complaint, Vasquez applied for and obtained public assistance for herself and a daughter since 2002.

She claimed the father of the child lived in Honduras. As a recipient of welfare benefits, she was obligated to report employment, income and household composition to family services officials. She claimed a "friend" named Israel Torres lived in her home. The man's real identity -- Ochoa -- was not reported to the county.

The investigation revealed both Ochoa and Vasquez worked for Jennie-O Turkey Store under false identities. Their income was not reported to the county.

The overpayment of welfare benefits totals $68,368.23 from September 2002 to July 2009, the complaint states.