Local News in Brief : Couple Plead Guilty to Perjury, Fraud in $100,000 Welfare Plot
A North Hollywood couple pleaded guilty Friday to welfare fraud and perjury in a scheme that authorities said cost Los Angeles County more than $100,000.
In a plea bargain with prosecutors, Walter Ziko, 28, and his wife, Rosie, 26, are expected to be sentenced to three years each in prison. They faced a maximum of six years.
The Zikos admitted Friday in Van Nuys Municipal Court to collecting more than $25,000 in fraudulent welfare aid between 1985 and 1988. They also admitted lying to welfare officials to get the money.
Including charges that are expected to be dropped as part of the plea bargain, authorities think the couple illegally received at least $117,464 in aid since 1980, said James Clark, an investigator for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
To collect the welfare money, the Zikos applied for Aid to Families with Dependent Children using false names for themselves and three of their children in addition to applying under their true names, Clark said.
Charges of perjury for illegally obtaining state driver’s licenses are among those expected to be dismissed when the couple is sentenced Oct. 13 by Van Nuys Superior Court Commissioner Sherman Juster. The licenses were used to provide phony identities that were used in the welfare scheme, authorities said.
The county’s investigation of the Zikos was triggered in January by an anonymous telephone tip to the county Department of Public Social Services.