Rep. Ceci Velasquez, D-Litchfield Park, told a Maricopa County Superior Court judge today she was homeless and trying to support her daughter when she falsely claimed her as a dependent on food stamp applications.
Judge Christopher Coury sentenced the lawmaker to one year on probation and 100 hours of community service.
Velasquez pleaded guilty Oct. 25 to a misdemeanor count of unlawful use of food stamps, admitting that she submitted false food stamp applications by claiming a daughter who didn’t live with her as a dependent.
Velasquez has maintained her silence since her indictment in June on several counts of fraud and unlawful use of food stamps.
In a memo to the court, her attorney, Roy Herrera, finally told her story of being homeless as a result of a prolonged and unexpected bed rest after a botched surgery.
He said from the end of 2013 and most of 2014 she lived in six to seven different homes of family and friends, sleeping on the couch or the floor.
Velasquez also sent her teenaged daughter to live with family or friends for weeks at a time during this period, but she kept listing the girl as a dependent on assistance applications.
“Ms. Velasquez felt it necessary to include her daughter in her assistance applications during this period in order to receive the additional benefits she felt were needed in order to care for her daughter’s needs,” Herrera wrote.
The series of events that led to the falsified documents began with what was supposed to be routine gallbladder surgery in September 2013.
She had to have a second surgery a few days later to repair damage caused by the first surgery.
She spent a week in the hospital, and a month later was hospitalized again.
In all, she spent 12 weeks on bed rest and lost her job and couldn’t pay her rent.
Herrera asked for only six months on probation, saying she has already endured punishment by losing her political career and being subject to public ridicule.