by: Lee Stoll Updated:SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. —
A state worker who was supposed to help people is accused of helping herself to your tax dollars.
Skagit County prosecutors said 34-year-old Cecilia Guillen used fake names to set up benefit accounts — then took the money.
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News stopped by Guillen’s house Friday but no one was home.
A neighbor, who asked KIRO 7 not to use her name, said the mother of five is a nice lady.
"They're just kind, kind people,” she said.
In court papers, she was charged with theft and criminal impersonation.
Guillen, who was a financial services specialist for Department of Social and Health Services, set up EBT card accounts for people like Victoria Long.
“It's extremely important. Without my EBT card, I don't have any money for food and I get my cash benefits on there,” said Long.
Washington State Patrol detectives said Guillen used a co-worker’s computer last summer to set up accounts for two ficticious men.
But the computer red-flagged the cards for several reasons; they were loaded with $941, the maximum benefit amount. There was nothing filed on paper.
"The same birth date was used for both parties that are charged, which is odd,” said Skagit County prosecutor Sloan Johnson.
Surveillance cameras showed Guillen cashed out both cards at a local grocery store.
Several months later, she was questioned by detectives.
She denied taking the money and said her husband was unemployed so she wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the job she’s had for 12 years.
KIRO 7 asked Johnson,"Is it possible she's done this before?”
"I'm not sure about that. You'd have to talk to the investigators,” Johnson said.
Long said she was disappointed someone could steal from people they’re supposed to help.
"I honestly can't believe how someone who works for this kind of office can do that sort of thing -- they know how much we need it,” said Long.
We asked DSHS if Guillen has been fired. They told KIRO 7 she has been reassigned while they investigate, which is standard procedure.
They admit, they are worried this has happened before.
Guillen, who does not have a criminal history, faces up to a year in jail if convicted.