An Oxnard woman who allegedly bought a home and a ski boat while receiving welfare payments was arrested on fraud charges after a 17-month investigation, authorities said.
Mandy Magnuson, 31, a self-employed massage therapist, collected nearly $30,000 in cash aid and food stamps between 1995 and 1999, authorities allege.
She was arrested at her home Tuesday and booked on felony charges of welfare fraud.
Officials allege that Magnuson did not disclose her employment status and business ownership to the Ventura County Human Services Agency while receiving assistance, as required. She also allegedly purchased a home, a car, two personal watercraft and a ski boat without reporting them to the agency.
Authorities allege that Magnuson also falsified rental and housing statements to hide the fact that she was actually making mortgage payments on her home.
Through a court-ordered search warrant, investigators also found that Magnuson had numerous unreported bank accounts and unreported sources of income in excess of $199,598 while she was receiving federal aid, authorities said.
In the last five years, prosecutors have filed 392 criminal welfare fraud cases, but the Magnuson case represents one of the largest thefts of welfare funds by a single person in recent years, said district attorney's investigator Vinse Gilliam.
"Welfare fraud is really misunderstood and underrated," said Gilliam, whose office is credited with saving the county $3.5 million last year that would otherwise have been awarded fraudulently. "The system is set up for those who truly need it. Prosecuting those who, in essence, are stealing, ensures that there are sufficient sources to meet the needs of those who are truly in need."
Magnuson is free in lieu of $10,000 bail. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison.