JURY FINDS CITIZEN OF MEXICO GUILTY OF MISUSING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER TO RECEIVE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal jury in New Haven has found FRANCISCO JAVIER NUNEZ-BANUELOS, also known as “Francisco J. Nunez” and “Chico,” 27, last residing in Wallingford, guilty of misusing a Social Security number to receive unemployment insurance compensation benefits from the Connecticut Department of Labor. The trial before United States District Judge Janet Bond Arterton began on December 9 and the jury returned the verdict today.
According to court documents and trial testimony, NUNEZ-BANUELOS, a citizen of Mexico unlawfully residing in the United States, used a Social Security number in December 2007 to seek unemployment insurance compensation benefits that were paid through April 2008. In initiating his claim for benefits, NUNEZ-BANUELOS fraudulently represented to the Connecticut Department of Labor that he was a U.S. citizen.
People who do not have a Social Security number or are not lawfully entitled to work in the United States are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance compensation benefits that employers pay to the Connecticut unemployment fund.
In 2010 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG), was conducting a criminal investigation related to undocumented workers fraudulently seeking and receiving unemployment insurance compensation benefits. As part of the investigation, on June 7, 2011, a DOL-OIG special agent and other federal agents visited a Wallingford residence where unemployment checks had been sent to current and former recipients who had invalid Social Security numbers or Social Security numbers that did not match the name of the person receiving the benefits. At the residence, NUNEZ-BANUELOS told agents that he had created a Social Security number that he used to seek unemployment insurance compensation benefits. He also told the agents that he had operated a construction company for the previous four years and was being paid in cash.
From December 2007 to April 2008, NUNEZ-BANUELOS sought and received 17 checks in the amount of $334 from the Connecticut Department of Labor as unemployment compensation benefits. The Connecticut Department of Labor would not have issued the checks had NUNEZ-BANUELOS not falsely represented that he had a Social Security number and was a U.S. citizen.
Today, the jury found NUNEZ-BANUELOS guilty of one count of false representation of a Social Security number, and 17 counts of mail fraud. Judge Arterton has scheduled sentencing for January 3, 2012, at which time NUNEZ-BANUELOS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years on the Social Security fraud count, and a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count of mail fraud.
NUNEZ-BANUELOS has been detained since his arrest on June 21, 2011.
This case was investigated by the United States Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Calvin B. Kurimai and Peter S. Jongbloed.
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