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D.A. Drops Fraud Case Against Soto

March 07, 2000|TRACY WILSON

Ventura County prosecutors dropped their welfare fraud case against convicted killer Gladis Soto on Monday.

The 38-year-old Ventura woman was sentenced to 52 years to life in prison two weeks ago for fatally shooting her sleeping husband on Feb. 20, 1998.

Given the lengthy sentence, prosecutors decided to dismiss a separate welfare fraud charge alleging she stole $47,605 in government aid for her five children between 1994 and 1997.

"We just didn't feel it was worthwhile to go forward in light of her sentence," Deputy Dist. Atty. Kim Gibbons said.

"I'd hoped we would be able to get some restitution out of her, but it didn't look like that would happen."

Soto was found guilty of first-degree murder and related charges in December for fatally shooting her husband, Pedro Alba, in their Ventura apartment.

After the shooting, Soto cut off Alba's limbs and head with an electric saw and tried to burn the remains in a dry riverbed.

She was seen by a transient who called police. Soto later confessed.

Despite evidence that Soto was a battered wife who lashed out to defend herself after enduring years of physical abuse by her husband, a jury found her guilty of premeditated murder.

The jurors were not told about the welfare fraud case, which was filed by Gibbons after Soto's arrest in the homicide case.

Prosecutors accused Soto of making false statements or representations to obtain aid for her children, ages 6 to 12, during the three years.

The criminal complaint alleged that she applied for welfare and did not list her husband as being in her home, as required by law.

Soto faced three years in state prison and a $5,000 fine if she had been convicted on the welfare case.

Soto's attorney had called the welfare fraud case excessive given the more serious charges in the murder case. On Monday, lawyer Kay Duffy, who represented Soto during the murder trial, praised prosecutors for not pursuing it further.

"To pursue this would have been a waste of resources given how much time she is looking at," Duffy said.

"I'm glad common sense prevailed."

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