Local Man Pleads Guilty to Oil Spill Fraud
PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Arturo L. Molina, 35, of the Fort Walton Beach area, pled guilty today to a single count federal indictment charging him with wire fraud in connection with claims filed related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The guilty plea was announced by Pamela C. Marsh, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
As a part of the plea, Molina admitted to electronically submitting a Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) form to obtain funds that he claimed were lost due to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The GCCF was tasked with receiving and processing all claims by individuals and businesses impacted by the Deepwater Horizon spill. To seek payment from the GCCF for damages incurred as a result of the oil spill, an individual or business was required to complete a GCCF Claim Form. Molina originally claimed he suffered $14,400.00 in lost earnings as an employee for a construction company in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
In support of his false claim, Molina provided documents to the GCCF. His submissions included what purported to be valid paychecks from “A & M Professional Framing, Inc.” Molina also submitted to the GCCF a Full Review Final Payment form for a loss he claimed to have incurred in the amount of $19,800.00. Molina submitted W-2 forms and a partial 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form for 2010. These forms claimed that Molina earned business income, yet there were no supporting documents attached and they did not appear to be fully executed. Based on these false claims, the GCCF made payment to Arturo L. Molina in the amount of $13,900.00.
Molina was eventually interviewed by investigators regarding his GCCF claims. He admitted he was paid by “A & M Professional Framing, Inc.” only in cash, which contradicted the paychecks submitted with his original claim. Further, he conceded that he was not a legal resident of the United States and did not have a permit to lawfully work in this country. In reality, the investigation revealed that none of the paychecks submitted with Molina’s claim were ever actually issued to him from the bank account provided in his claim. Furthermore, the W-2 forms submitted contained multiple social security numbers and, pursuant to review by the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, they are not legitimately linked to Molina. The tax forms submitted by Molina in support of the claim were also fraudulent.
Sentencing for Molina is set before Chief United States District Judge M. Casey Rodgers on July 5, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. Molina faces up to twenty years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and up to a $250,000 fine for this wire fraud conviction.
The indictment results from an investigation by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Goldberg is prosecuting the case.