HARRISONBURG — A Harrisonburg woman accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $7,000 in social service benefits pleaded guilty Tuesday in Rockingham County Circuit Court.
Myrna Rondina Suter, 62, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of filing a false application with the Virginia Department of Social Services.
As part of a plea deal, Judge Bruce Albertson issued an eight-year suspended sentence.
Suter was arrested Jan. 9.
Prosecutors say she submitted false applications and interim reports to Social Services starting in 2014 and continuing through 2018.
Suter was receiving monthly payments from the Veterans Benefits Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to prosecutors. It’s unclear why she was receiving VA benefits. However, prosecutors say, she didn’t report the income on her welfare application.
In November, prosecutors say, Rockingham County Social Services conducted a random audit on the account and cross-checked it with the Public Assistance Reporting Information Service. The search yielded a hit with the VA, according to prosecutors.
As a result, prosecutors say, Suter received $7,650 from the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes SNAP funds available to states to help households meeting certain income criteria purchase food.
As part of the taxpayer-funded program, the state deposits money into a recipient’s SNAP account, which can be used at participating stores with a state-issued debit card. The card can be used to purchase unprepared food and nonalcoholic beverages.
Prosecutors say Suter confessed to the crimes, saying she was afraid she would lose her SNAP benefits if she reported the income.