You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Woman living in luxury sentenced for stealing up to $377,000 in government benefits


With a round pool in the backyard, a Mercedes and a boat in the driveway and a greenhouse and an aviary nearby, the Florida house doesn’t look like it was owned by someone who qualified for public assistance.

But it was.

While living the life of luxury on a 1-acre manicured lot, Gloria Valle-Clas collected between $305,000 and $377,000 in food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid benefits. Using two separate Social Security numbers and as many as 12 aliases, she duped government agencies into sending her monthly assistance checks and picking up her medical bills for nearly a decade.

“Conduct like this should incense all Americans,” U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp said Thursday. “To be ripping off our government — every agency by every means possible.”

While her attorney Gregg Lerman suggested a roughly 3 1/2-year sentence, Ryskamp said that wasn’t enough. He tacked on roughly another year.

“I just think this is about as low as it gets,” Ryskamp said in sentencing Valle-Clas to 51 months in prison, the maximum allowed under federal rules. He also ordered her to pay $283,359 in restitution.

Her 41-year-old husband, who benefited from his spouse’s schemes but played a minor role in them, was shown some mercy. Alexander Gonzalez was sentenced to 364 days in prison and ordered to repay the government $9,999.

His attorney Jonathan Friedman said a sentence of less than a year may help persuade an immigration judge to allow Gonzalez, who is in the country legally, to remain in the United States after he completes his prison term.

The sophisticated scheme began in 2003 when Valle-Clas persuaded the Broward County Housing Authority to give her monthly checks to live in two homes she owned in North Lauderdale. Later, by again lying about her marital status, her bank accounts and her ownership of businesses, including a printing company, she got the Boca Raton Housing Authority to pay her rent to live in the Loxahatchee, Fla., home, according to court documents.

The truth was, she had plenty of money, she said. Not only did the couple live off their fraudulently obtained government checks, but they pocketed $200,000 when they sold the homes in North Lauderdale. Further, when Valle-Clas persuaded a bank to give her a $200,000 line of credit, she defaulted on $145,000, Bell said.

To emphasize Valle-Clas’ cunning, she showed Ryskamp two driver’s license photos of Valle-Clas. In one, she wears glasses, has bangs and uses the name Gloria LopezClas. In the other, she has her hair pulled back, no glasses and calls herself Nereida Valle. The photos, Bell said, were taken a day apart.

“This is a crime against every taxpayer in America,” she said. “Mrs. Valle-Clas was someone who had assets and the means to help herself. Despite that, she took advantage of society.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

Sierra Nevada recalls beer for glass flaw
Sierra Nevada recalls beer for glass flaw

Sierra Nevada is recalling some of its beer because of a packaging flaw that can cause a piece of glass to break and possibly fall into the beverage. The voluntary recall comes after inspections at the Mills River, North Carolina brewery noticed the fault after some bottles of beer had low carbonation, according to a statement from Sierra Nevada.  ...
Trump's first executive order suspends mortgage insurance rate decrease
Trump's first executive order suspends mortgage insurance rate decrease

President Donald Trump’s first executive order blocked a mortgage insurance premium cut that would have reduced the cost of mortgages for millions of middle-class home buyers.
Woman fired, interviewed by Secret Service over tweet
Woman fired, interviewed by Secret Service over tweet

A Kentucky woman was fired after she tweeted about assassinating President Donald Trump, WAVE-TV reports. The woman's tweet read, “If someone was cruel enough to assassinate MLK, maybe someone will be kind enough to assassinate Trump. #bekind #trump #lovetrumpshate." Heather Lowrey has since deleted the tweet and deactivated her Twitter...
United lifts ground stop after computer outage
United lifts ground stop after computer outage

All of United Airlines flights were grounded Sunday because of a computer outage, the Federal Aviation Administration said. "A ground stop is in place for domestic flights due to an IT issue," United tweeted. "We’re working on a resolution. We apologize for the inconvenience." The ground stop was lifted after 9 p.m. "...
West Liberty-Salem schools to resume classes Tuesday
West Liberty-Salem schools to resume classes Tuesday

Classes at West Liberty-Salem schools will resume Tuesday, Superintendent Kraig Hissong said in a statement released Sunday. The schools have been closed since Friday morning, when two students were injured in a shooting at the high school. “Moving forward, the district is committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students,&rdquo...
More Stories