Man Pleads Guilty to Using Undocumented Persons to Fraudulently Obtain over $4.4 Million in Unemployment Benefits
Las Vegas, Nev. – One of four men charged last September with using undocumented persons to aid them in unlawfully obtaining millions of dollars of unemployment benefits from the State of Nevada and federal government, pleaded guilty today, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Francisco Garcia, 41, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, and false representation of a social security number. Garcia is also required to forfeit $4,401,548 in cash and five houses in Las Vegas, which were proceeds from the crimes. Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on February 3, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. and faces up to 35 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
Francisco Garcia's plea agreement states that from about November 2007 to September 2009, he and three co-defendants, Eloy Garcia, 33, Efrain Garcia, 41, and Nabor Garcia, 32, all of Las Vegas, fraudulently submitted at least 591 unemployment claims to the State of Nevada, causing it to pay unemployment insurance benefits, emergency unemployment compensation benefits, federal additional compensation benefits, and state extended benefits, totaling approximately $4.4 million.
In order to execute the scheme, the defendants recruited undocumented persons to apply for unemployment benefits, even though they were not entitled to the benefits because they were illegally in the United States. The defendants obtained personal identifying information and work history from the undocumented persons, and submitted the fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits through the State's unemployment benefit telephone hotline and website. If the State sent the claimant an affidavit to establish identity (done when it was unable to match the claimant's social security number to Nevada DMV records,) the defendants submitted a false notarized affidavit of identity.
When the unemployment claims were accepted, the State provided the benefits through debit cards or checks mailed to addresses that the defendants controlled. In some cases, the defendants provided the undocumented workers with a portion of the benefits, and told them that their claims had stopped paying, when in fact the State had continued to pay the claims.
In other instances, the defendants told applicants that their unemployment claims were not accepted, when in fact they had been.
The co-defendants are scheduled to enter guilty pleas on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. The State of Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Employment Security Division, also assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicholas D. Dickinson and Kathryn C. Newman.