Arizona legislator sentenced to probation in food stamp case

PHOENIX (AP) - State Rep. Cecilia Velasquez was sentenced Friday to one year of probation for her guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully using food stamps.

The one-term Democrat from Litchfield Park also was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service.

She was accused of fraudulently obtaining $1,726 in benefits.

Her lawyer says she has already paid back the money to the state.

Officials have said Velasquez falsely claimed she had two dependents, gave a false address and allowed two other people to use her food stamp benefit card.

Her attorney has said there was only one dependent at issue, a daughter who Hernandez falsely claimed still lived with her.

She dropped her re-election bid after being indicted.

Velasquez released this statement Thursday:

“Several years ago, when I became seriously ill and my family was struggling financially, I sought the same kind of assistance from the Department of Economic Security that thousands of others seek during hard times.  I never sought that help with any kind of malicious intent."

“Ultimately, that assistance did exactly what it was supposed to do. It helped feed my children, pull us out of poverty and get our lives back on track.  I am eternally grateful it was available to us when we needed it most."

“Through this process, I learned that I made mistakes during the course of that assistance.  I should be accountable for those mistakes – just like anyone else.  I deeply regret that, and I apologize to the people I represent for making those mistakes."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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