CLEVELAND– The FOX 8 I-Team has obtained exclusive video showing how investigators built their case for a food stamp scam involving a local social services worker and a Cleveland mother of 9. The case came to light after the mother was arrested for the murder of her 5-year-old child found buried in the backyard of a home.
Thursday, Cuyahoga County Judge Nancy Russo sent both the mother and the case worker to prison on charges tied to the food stamp fraud. Larissa Rodriguez, the mother, received a sentence of 6 years in prison.
Nancy Caraballo, a social services worker with Catholic Charities, received a sentence of 3 years.
Rodriguez and her boyfriend still face charges for the murder of 5-year-old Jordan Rodriguez.
Video shows Caraballo checking out at a grocery store buying water, fruit, vegetables, chips and much more. She can be seen pushing a cart full of groceries leaving the store.
Caraballo should have been going to the Rodriguez family home every month to check on the kids and refer them for educational services. But investigators found at least a dozen times she went there on visitation days only to pick up the food stamp card. Investigators say she gave the mother 50 cents for every dollar of food stamps.
Text messages show how the women arranged the deals. In one case, Rodriguez wrote, “Hey…u still giving me the 200 and the 50…just add that to the 400 I’m giving you from the card.”
Caraballo responded, “I’m giving you 150. I gave you 50. I can’t buy any more.”
Cuyahoga County prosecutors say $10,000 worth of food stamps changed hands, and prosecutors believe the mother made the deals so that the case worker would not report signs of abuse and neglect.
Caraballo fought back tears and repeatedly said she’s sorry. She hesitated when asked why she did it. She has claimed she would have reported any abuse or neglect she had seen.
Rodriguez didn’t speak.
The women will also have to pay back the cost of the food stamps involved as part of their sentences.
Judge Russo said to Rodriguez, “I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone quite this selfish when it comes to their children.” And the Judge said to Caraballo, “If this child hadn’t died, this might never have come to light.”
Rodriguez and her boyfriend are set to go on trial for the murder in July.