According to Benton County officials, a sort of "sting" or emphasis watch has been placed on nabbing fraudulent welfare recipients, and apparently it's paying off. A Prosser woman is accused of defrauding the state despite owning hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets.

47-year-old Maria E. Raya was the subject of a serious no-bail arrest warrant issued late last week by Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom. Hers is one of some 120 such cases in Benton County, and over 4,000 statewide.

She was supposed to appear in court last week on a theft charge, but didn't show up. According to  records obtained by the Daily Sun News out of Sunnyside, Raya and her husband owned and operated a trucking company and a farm, Raya Trucking and Calf Farms in Prosser at the SAME time she was filing for welfare due to "lack of income,"  County records show they own property on North Griffin Road in Prosser and also in Sunnyside. Tax Records show their trucking company showed gross earnings in excess of $700,000 between 2009 and 2014. Raya filed for the claims between August 2009 and end of October 2014!

She reportedly told welfare officials she was separating from her husband and the company was in foreclosure. However, officials found they owned some 24 vehicles, eight of them to Maria Raya, and during this time they were also collecting rental payments for the Prosser property, and receiving mortgage payments for the land in Sunnyside.

Her no-bail warrant means she will have to remain in jail when she is located and arrested by authorities.

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