SAN JOSE -- A former Santa Clara County Social Services Agency worker is facing a criminal charge of misappropriating money intended for welfare recipients, according to the district attorney's office.

Prosecutors have accused Cecilia Jenrick, 49, of Pleasanton, of siphoning more than $2,000 from the accounts three elderly immigrants and one seriously ill person.

Jenrick, a former client services technician at the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, could face up to four years in prison if convicted as charged.

"Public employees are tasked with helping people," Deputy District Attorney Judy Lee said in a statement. "When they take criminal advantage of the most vulnerable among us, this office will hold them strictly accountable."

Prosecutors say Jenrick used her position with the social services agency to issue Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, which are essentially debit cards that can be used at ATMs and stores, to herself and not the intended recipients.

Jenrick was previously employed by the county and is alleged to have siphon the funds between June and August 2011. The Social Services Agency launched an inquiry after four clients reported that their Electronic Benefits Transfer cards were not working.

The investigation by the Social Services Agency showed that Jenrick used her position to issue cards to herself, activate them and withdraw the funds.

Three of the victims received government aid from the state-funded program known as Cash Aid Program for Immigrants. This program provides financial aid to elderly or disabled immigrants. A fourth victim was receiving general assistance.

Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him on Twitter @MarkMgomez