News and Press Releases

Loxahatchee Pair Indicted in Conspiracy to Defraud Banks and Federal Benefit Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2013

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Lester Fernandez, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General, Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Thomas Caul, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration (SSA), Office of Inspector General, Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Inspector General, and Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General, Miami Region, announced the indictment of defendants Gloria Nereida Valle-Clas, 48, and Alexander Gonzalez, 40, of Loxahatchee, Florida.

According to the indictment, Valle-Clas obtained two social security numbers (SSN), one which was originally associated with her birth name, “Nereida Valle,” and one of which was originally associated with the name “Gloria Lopes Clas.” From at least December, 2003, to January, 2013, she used the SSN for “Nereida Valle” to obtain federal housing, social security, food, cash, and medical benefits from HUD, SSA, USDA and HHS. At the same time, she used the SSN for “Gloria Lopes Clas” to buy real estate in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties, including over an acre of property in Loxahatchee, Florida on which she built an approximately 2,700 square foot residence. Her husband, Gonzalez, also bought real estate in Broward County. When applying for federal benefits, she failed to disclose her or her husband’s ownership of property, as well as other assets and income. In 2009, after obtaining over $330,000 in mortgages on the Loxahatchee Property, Valle-Clas failed to disclose her receipt of federal benefits in obtaining a $145,000 loan charge-off.

Valle-Clas, who formally changed her name from “Nereida Valle” to “Gloria Nereida Valle-Clas” in 2003, used approximately 12 aliases in perpetrating the scheme, most of which were variations on “Nereida Valle” and “Gloria Lopes Clas.” Gonzalez used approximately eight aliases, most of which were variations on his birth name, “Alexander Jose Gonzalez Flores.”

Both Valle-Clas and Gonzalez are charged with one count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; six counts of theft of government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641; four counts of making a false statement to HUD, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001; and one count of making a false statement to an FDIC insured financial institution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1014. In addition, Valle-Clas is charged separately with twenty-three counts of theft of government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. The maximum penalties for each of the Section 371 conspiracy and Section 1001 HUD false statement counts are five years’ imprisonment, up to three years supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or not more than twice the gross gain or loss form the offense, whichever is greater. The maximum penalty for each of the Section 641 theft of government funds charges is ten years imprisonment, up to three years supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or not more than twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. For the Section 1014 false statement to a bank charge, the maximum penalty is thirty years imprisonment, up to five years supervised release, and a fine of $1,000,000 or not more than twice the gross gain or loss form the offense, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Those who defraud our federal benefit programs take resources from the neediest members of our society. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate these frauds.”

HUD-OIG Special Agent in Charge Lester Fernandez stated, “The United States Department of Housing & Urban Development - Office of Inspector General is dedicated to ensuring these rental assistance funds are properly accounted for and made available to needy recipients. I am proud of the combined investigative efforts which led to this indictment. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners toward eliminating public assistance fraud in HUD’s programs.”

Special Agent in Charge Citizen-Wilcox stated, “The Office of Inspector General at USDA is determined to prevent and uncover potential criminal activity in the SNAP program. Strengthening the integrity of SNAP is a priority for our Investigations division. The resources taxpayers provide for vital Federal Nutrition programs should be reserved for those truly in need.”

“Conspiring to steal tax dollars at the expense of needy Americans is offensive,” said Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services, Miami Region. “Valle-Clas and Gonzalez shamelessly stole government benefits even as they accumulated substantial real estate holdings.”

Valle-Clas and Gonzalez made their initial appearances in federal district court in West Palm Beach, Florida before the Honorable United States Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon earlier today. Arraignments and detention hearings are scheduled for Friday, August 9, 2013 in West Palm Beach before Judge Brannon.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of HUD Office of the Inspector General, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the SSA Office of the Inspector General, the USDA Office of the Inspector General, and the HHS Office of the Inspector General. This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn Bell.

An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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