Loxahatchee Pair Plead Guilty to Government Benefit Fraud Charges
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Lester Fernandez, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General, Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Thomas Caul, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration (SSA), Office of Inspector General, Atlanta Field Division, Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Inspector General, and Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Miami Region, announce that defendants Gloria Nereida Valle-Clas, 48, and Alexander Gonzalez, 40, of Loxahatchee, Florida, pled guilty today in West Palm Beach before U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins.
According to the indictment, and as the defendants admitted when pleading guilty, Valle-Clas obtained two social security numbers (SSN), one of 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.
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.”
Valle-Clas pled guilty to one count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and one count of making a false statement to HUD, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Gonzalez pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting Valle-Clas in making a false statement to HUD, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. The maximum penalties for each of the Section 371 conspiracy and Section 1001 HUD false statement counts are five years in prison, 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.
Valle-Clas and Gonzalez are scheduled to be sentenced on February 21, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. in West Palm Beach before U.S. Senior District Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp.
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-OIG. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bell.
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.