LOS ANGELES COUNTY : Mother, Son Indicted in Welfare Fraud Scheme

An indictment was unsealed Tuesday against two members of a band of so-called "gypsies" accused of running one of the largest welfare fraud schemes in Los Angeles County history.

Marelene Demetrio de Gomez, 33, and her 18-year-old son, Anyelo, appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court but did not enter pleas to the charges. Their attorneys were not in court and the arraignment was postponed until this morning.

Prosecutors allege that the mother and son, who were both dressed in jail clothes at their court appearance, are members of a ring that defrauded the welfare system for about 10 years. They each were indicted on various counts of conspiracy, grand theft, receiving welfare aid by misrepresentation and perjury.

Deputy Dist. Atty. William Hodgman alleged that the defendants obtained birth certificates from Puerto Rico and used them to get California driver's licenses and other forms of identification. Through the false identification, they were able to defraud the system of at least $880,000 in welfare aid, Hodgman alleged.

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