TWO LOWELL RESIDENTS SENTENCED FOR IDENTIFY THEFT OF DISABLED VETERANS AT V.A. HOSPITAL
BOSTON, Mass.- Two Lowell residents were sentenced today in federal court for stealing the identities of several disabled, combat veterans living in a local area veteran’s hospital.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Jeffrey G. Hughes, Special Agent in Charge, Northeast Field Office, Office of Inspector General, Department of Veterans Affairs and Stephen D. Ricciardi, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service announced today that WILFREDO HERNANDEZ, 42 and JESSICA RIVERA, 29, formerly Lowell, were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Edward Harrington. HERNANDEZ was sentenced to one year and a day of incarceration, followed by two years of supervised release. RIVERA was sentenced to six months of home confinement and two years of probation. Both defendants were ordered to pay over $3,000 in restitution. On March 12, 2010, HERNANDEZ and RIVERA were convicted after a week long jury trial of conspiracy to commit identity fraud, access device fraud, and wire fraud, one count of identity fraud, and two counts of access device fraud.
HERNANDEZ and RIVERA were employees of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford, Mass. HERNANDEZ was a housekeeping supervisor and RIVERA a nurse’s assistant. The evidence at trial proved that the two stole checks, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers from several disabled, combat veterans who lived at the hospital in the long-term care facility. HERNANDEZ and RIVERA shared the stolen information with GLADYS HERNANDEZ, the mother of WILFREDO HERNANDEZ who previously pled guilty and was sentenced to probation due to her serious health issues, and the three defendants purchased in excess of a $1,000 in goods and services over the telephone and Internet using the veterans’ accounts and identities.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz said, “We will vigorously investigate and prosecute crimes against veterans. Our nation is thankful for the service that people in the military, past and present, have performed for their country. It is imperative that we do all we can to protect them once they are home.”
The case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, the United States Secret Service and the Bedford VA Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony E. Fuller of Ortiz’s Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit.