‘Wealthy welfare mom’ to serve 2-6 years in state prison after losing appeal

ALBANY, N.Y. – Albany County's “wealthy welfare mom” has unanimously lost her appeal, the New York State Court of Appeals announced Thursday.

38-year-old Angela Lopez, of Colonie, sought to get her conviction overturned for stealing nearly $100,000 in welfare and food stamp benefits.

Lopez will soon be sent to state prison for to two concurrent prison terms of 2 to 6 years and will be ordered to pay restitution. She has been out on $50,000 bail since being charged with welfare fraud in the second degree and grand larceny in the third degree.

In May 2011, Lopez took a plea deal for her charges, but during a July sentencing hearing Lopez told the court she was changing her mind about the plea deal, and she asked the judge to withdraw her guilty plea, stating in a letter the decision was because she “didn't like her lawyer.”

She also waived her right to appeal the conviction with prosecutors, later stating that no one explained to her what she was agreeing to, saying that her appeal waiver is invalid and that her sentence is harsh and excessive.

The state Appellate Divison sided with prosecutors Thursday, saying “Supreme Court fully and separately explained to defendant the nature of the appeal rights she was waiving and the consequences of doing so.”

They also say Lopez “orally confirmed that she understood and agreed to waive those rights, and also executed a written appeal waiver that acknowledged her understanding that the right to appeal is not automatically forfeited upon a plea of guilty and that she had consulted with her attorney concerning the legal ramifications of her waiver.”

Lopez is facing charges that, over a period of four years, she received disability, food stamps, and Medicaid for herself, her husband, and their six children. At the same time she worked as a nurse's aide, never reporting that income.

She will make a court appearance on Thursday, July 12th before being sent to prison.

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