A no-bail arrest warrant has been issued for a Prosser woman charged with collecting state benefits while her husband’s trucking company was bringing in about $200,000 in gross earnings every year.
Maria E. Raya, 47, failed to appear this week in Benton County Superior Court after being sent a summons.
Judge Alex Ekstrom ordered the warrant after noting there was nothing in the court file to show the summons had been returned to the Benton County Clerk’s Office because of a wrong address.
Raya is charged with first-degree theft for failing to disclose her husband’s income, the fact they’re still living together and that she also was receiving money for a rental home.
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Raya received food and medical benefits assistance from the state Department of Social and Health Services from August 2009 through October 2014.
She told the department in 2008 that Raya Trucking was being foreclosed on by the state of Washington, and that her husband was going back to work in the fields, according to court documents.
The state Department of Revenue’s website shows that the account for Raya Trucking, which was owned by Maria and Juan Raya, was active from August 2005 until December 2014.
Raya also reported in 2008 that her husband was not employed and her household included her husband and their children. She later told the department she had separated from her husband in July 2009, and he was not providing any income to the household, documents said.
An investigator got reports from the Department of Revenue showing Raya Trucking’s reported gross earnings between 2008 and 2012 ranged from $170,889 to $201,205, according to court documents.
Raya allegedly continued to report no change in her household until an enforcement officer with the state Division of Child Support found in May 2013 that Juan Raya had listed the same Prosser address as Maria Raya’s home.
That’s when an investigator with the Department of Social and Health Service’s Office of Fraud and Accountability discovered that Raya had been collecting rent from a tenant who was living in another home on her Prosser property. That rental income was never reported to the department, court documents said.
The investigator got reports from the Department of Revenue that showed Raya Trucking’s reported gross earnings between 2008-12 ranged from $170,889 to $201,205, documents said.
Since 2012, Raya had eight vehicles registered in her name and her husband had 16 vehicles, all listing their Prosser address, documents said.
When the fraud investigator met with Raya in June 2015, she allegedly said their trucking company “was very much in debt” and her husband would not let her know how much money they made.
Raya admitted that her husband did not have a different address, saying he would stop in between trucking jobs and kept all of his belongings at the home, court documents said.
Raya said a relative lives in a Sunnyside home owned by the couple, the relative pays the mortgage directly, and that they had been renting the trailer on their Prosser property since the summer of 2013 for $600 per month, documents said.