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

Clark County receives mixed results for air quality
Clark County receives mixed results for air quality

Clark County received mixed results on its air quality, according to a recent report from the American Lung Association. The county received an F grade for its ozone quality, but received an A grade for short-term particle pollution, according to the Association’s State of the Air 2017 report. RELATED: Springfield leader wants lifetime warranty...
Missing Alabama teen found safe in Texas 16 months later
Missing Alabama teen found safe in Texas 16 months later

An Alabama teen who vanished without a trace two years ago after taking out the trash has been found. Alissia Freeman, who was more than 1,000 miles away in El Paso, Texas, reached out to her mother, Vickie Metcalf, on a video call Monday after being out of contact with her family since she disappeared on Dec. 13, 2015. She was 17 at the time...
Demolition of Ohio bridge doesn’t go as planned
Demolition of Ohio bridge doesn’t go as planned

UPDATE 7:37: The implosion of the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge on I-71 in Warren County didn’t go as planned Sunday morning. An ODOT spokesperson said one of the explosive charges came loose, leaving one of four sections standing. Matt Bruning, ODOT spokesman, said crews will look to attach another charge, and try to demolish the remaining bridge...
Rape case lawyer says women are 'especially good' at lying
Rape case lawyer says women are 'especially good' at lying

A lawyer for a wealthy Tennessee businessman who was later found not guilty in a Memphis rape trial made a comment during closing arguments Thursday that raised some eyebrows. According to WHBQ, Steve Farese, attorney for Mark Giannini, said women are "especially good" at lying. "People can be very good at lying," Farese said...
Donald Trump reveals where he'll be instead of the White House Correspondents' Dinner
Donald Trump reveals where he'll be instead of the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Every year, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is one of the social events of the spring. For almost 100 years, journalists, government officials and celebrities have gotten together to crack jokes and eat expensive meals. The event has been attended by Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington. In 2011, then-President Barack Obama roasted Donald...
More Stories