MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 49 year-old Anoka County woman has been charged with wrongfully obtaining assistance while winning over $190,000 at Mystic Lake Casino.
Connie Linh Tran started receiving public assistance through the Anoka County Department of Human Services in 2015 and submitted her most recent application for benefits on Dec. 13, 2018.
According to the criminal complaint, between Aug. 2016 and July 2018, Tran willfully misrepresented or withheld information about her household income. As a result, she received $28,205.61 in benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”).
During those years, Tran reported her income and employment history numerous times; she reported working at nail salons, receiving gifts from her mother, and earning unspecified unemployment income. She generally reported a monthly income of less than $2,500. Information on file with the Department of Employment and Economic Development indicates her annual household income was $15,614.80 in 2016, $24,493 in 2017, and $26,176 in 2018.
On April 16, 2016, Tran signed an application to update her Medical Assistance case, reporting a monthly income of $1,206. On Jan. 3, 2017 she completed and signed a Minnesota Care renewal form, in which she reported the same monthly income. Over the years, she repeatedly claimed a monthly income of $1,600 in applications for Medical Assistance and Apply MN. In December of 2018, she also reported she did not own any cash or checking accounts and did not have any gambling winnings, loans, gifts, or other supplementary income.
DHS staff referred Tran’s file to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office in April of 2018. She had provided them with a bank statement displaying large deposits and withdrawals inconsistent with her reported income. Investigators also noted a large number of significant withdrawals and cash deposits at Mystic Lake Casino, which Tran had never reported in her applications for assistance.
Investigators contacted a compliance coordinator at Mystic Lake and found her “cash in total” at the casino was $425,020. Between Jan 1. 2017 and May 6, 2018, Tran had received $190,896.69 in winnings paid out by cashiers at Mystic Lake.
Based on the discrepancies between Tran’s reported income and her spending at the casino, investigators applied for and obtained a search warrant for Tran’s bank accounts at US Bank. A resulting analysis of three of Tran’s checking accounts at US Bank confirmed she had been under-reporting her income and assets to DHS. The bank records indicated total deposits of $61,913.82 in 2016, $171,205.76 in 2017, and $85,388.14 through August 23, 2018.
An Equifax consumer credit report obtained on Jan. 2, 2019 indicated that Tran had 10 revolving credit accounts with a balance of $2,655 and available credit of $17,100. Documents show the credit report demonstrated the disparity between Tran’s reported and actual income. Her apparent spending was also not explained by debt.
Tran’s actual income from 2016 to 2018 exceeded eligibility requirements for the assistance she fraudulently received. She acquired $24,914.61 in medical assistance and $3,291 in food support, adding to a total of $28,205.61.
If convicted, Tran could serve up to 10 years in prison.