MAY 14, 2009
A Texas county commissioner charged with paying her illegal immigrant domestic workers with public funds is closer to being convicted after two women admitted in federal court this week that they helped the lawmaker fleece taxpayers.
Hidalgo County Commissioner Sylvia Handy was indicted last month for orchestrating the fraudulent employment by the county of Mexican illegal aliens who cleaned her house and took care of her children. For at least five years the veteran commissioner paid the illegal immigrants with county funds even though they never did any public work, according to a 70-page indictment made public in early April.
Handy, who along with her husband was arrested at her home last month, put the workers on her precinct payroll under assumed names and assigned them bogus maintenance jobs. Prosecutors estimate that tens of thousands of dollars were illegally charged to the county throughout the years.
The commissioner has vehemently maintained her innocence since being charged, but this week a pair of suspects in the case threw a wrench into her story. Two women admitted to a federal judge that they collected more than $111,000 by participating in Handy’s corrupt scheme.
One pleaded guilty to conspiracy, admitting that she got county paychecks while working as Handy’s personal housekeeper and babysitter for more than five years. Another woman, who is a McAllen school employee, said she let the illegal alien housekeeper use her Social Security number to avoid drawing attention to the fraud. The commissioner’s trial is scheduled for next month.
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