Elmont woman to serve up to 3 years for welfare fraud, AG says
An Elmont woman will serve up to 3 years in prison for her role in what prosecutors said was a scheme that allowed her to receive welfare benefits for which she wasn’t eligible.
Ana Candanedo, 33, was sentenced to 1 1⁄3 to 3 years in prison by Nassau County Court Judge Terence Murphy on Monday, nearly three months after she pleaded guilty to fourth-degree welfare fraud, according to a news release issued by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Prosecutors said Candanedo skimmed up to $1,000 in welfare benefits by conspiring with a co-defendant who posed as a landlord so she could receive housing benefits.
Candanedo and the other defendant, George Athanasatos, officials said, submitted fraudulent housing verification and benefit eligibility forms to the Nassau County Department of Social Services.
She pleaded guilty to the charge on June 19. Her attorney could not be reached for comment.
“Housing benefits are intended for recipients who are in legitimate need of support,” Schneiderman said in the release. “Lying in order to divert these funds is shameful, and those who undermine our safety net programs will be prosecuted.”
Candanedo was sentenced as a prior felony offender because she was convicted in 2009 of reckless assault of a child.
The latest allegations against her surfaced as state law enforcement authorities conducted Operation Sticky Fingers, a 10-month investigation that led to the arrests of a dozen people who, prosecutors said, participated in “one of the largest ever organized retail theft and fencing rings.”
Conversations between Candanedo and Athanasatos that revealed the welfare fraud scheme were picked up during surveillance, prosecutors said.
The case against Athanasatos is pending. His attorney, Joseph Mure of Brooklyn, said his client is innocent.
“He’s entered a plea of not guilty and he denies any wrongdoing at this point,” Mure said.