- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A Maui homeowner was ordered to repay nearly $30,000 in welfare benefits that authorities said she received while working.

Edelmira Salayes Araiza of Kihei was accused of collecting the benefits while also receiving income from her grocery clerk job, cleaning business and rental unit.

Araiza also was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service as part of the sentence imposed Friday, the Maui News (https://is.gd/YsJeBP) reported.

Araiza, 42, said through a Spanish interpreter that she did not know what she was doing.

Deputy Public Defender William “Pili” McGrath said he wasn’t sure Araiza understood everything she was signing at the Department of Human Services.

“But if you don’t understand, you’re supposed to ask,” McGrath said.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo said Araiza must speak some English at her job. Araiza also has renters, owns a home and a cleaning business, and she bought a truck a couple years ago, according to the judge.

Authorities say Araiza used an electronic benefits card about 1,000 times between 2009 and 2013.

“You obviously had no problem using this card at the supermarkets,” Loo said. “I feel you were very deceptive in your behavior. I’m glad there were some diligent neighbors or other people who questioned you receiving benefits.”

Deputy prosecutor Jeffery Temas said a home purchased for $500,000 in 2008 was among Araiza’s reported assets.

Deposits of more than $40,000 were made involving the cleaning business, and more than $73,000 was put into Araiza’s husband’s business while she was collecting welfare benefits, according to Temas.

Araiza was ordered by the judge to repay at least $100 a month.

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Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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