Termination letters were sent today to two employees of the Portales Income Support Division arrested in a scheme to embezzle money from the state agency.
Ricardo Mendez, 37, of Clovis and Julia Tapia, 49, of Portales are accused of stealing at least $2,900 from fraudulent accounts.
They were arrested Aug. 1 at an ATM machince trying to withdraw money from the fraudulent accounts they had created, according to the district attorney’s office.
“Letters are being sent out to notify employees that we intend to terminate them,” said Betina Gonzales McCracken, communications director of the New Mexico Human Services Department. “They will have an opportunity to response then we will make our final determination. Investigators have not given me an exact total at this time as to how much was stolen.”
Investigators for the district attorney’s office are still investigating.
“They (investigators) are still trying to figure out the amount,” 9th Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter said. “The human services department is also doing a statewide audit to make sure there are no other fraudulent cases. It is delaying our search through the computer database for the total.”
Investigators were exploring the involvement of an additional party, but could not find any solid leads, Carter said.
Carter said investigators did learn that the state employees obtained social security numbers from New Jersey residents.