A couple more frauds…YOUR tax dollars hard at work.

Forest Lake man convicted of swindling the government

Undated photo of Eric (left) and Brittany Vacko will stand trial for a combined 17 felony charges on Jan. 18. Brittany, 26, was convicted of perjury and forgery last Tuesday.(Courtesy of Ramsey County Sheriff's office)

Undated photo of Eric (left) and Brittany Vacko will stand trial for a combined 17 felony charges on Jan. 18. Brittany, 26, was convicted of perjury and forgery last Tuesday.(Courtesy of Ramsey County Sheriff’s office)

By RICHARD CHIN | rchin@pioneerpress.com
February 11, 2016 | UPDATED: 14 hours ago
A Forest Lake man was convicted Thursday of 11 charges including forgery, perjury, theft by swindle and wrongfully obtaining public assistance in a scheme that prosecutors say cheated the government out of $156,000.

Eric Joseph Vacko, 35, entered an “Alford plea” to the charges against him in Ramsey County District Court, meaning he did not admit wrongdoing, but acknowledged that the prosecutor had enough evidence to convict him.
At a hearing, Vacko acknowledged that he faced testimony by government officials and others that he and his wife, Brittany Ann Vacko, applied for public benefits starting in 2011 claiming no income, jobs or bank accounts, when in fact he had money in the bank and was employed selling used cars.
Vacko also acknowledged there would be testimony that he forged documents falsely showing that he was enrolled in a technical college, that he had had gallbladder surgery, that he suffered from depression, that his mother had died and that his “significant other” had a miscarriage. The false documents were used to help Vacko and his wife get or continue to get benefits, according to prosecutors. The money Vacko fraudulently received included child care grants and Social Security supplemental income, according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutor Thomas Hatch said that, under a plea agreement, Vacko can expect to serve 180 days in jail after he is sentenced March 17 and will be given a $156,000 restitution bill. Brittany Vacko, who has also pleaded guilty to six charges in the investigation, also will be sentenced March 17.

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