Two More Defendants Plead Guilty in Unemployment Benefits Fraud Case
Las Vegas, Nev. – Two more defendants who used undocumented persons to help them unlawfully obtain millions of dollars of unemployment benefits from the State of Nevada and federal government have entered guilty pleas, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Eloy Garcia, 33, of Las Vegas, entered his guilty plea on Thursday, November 3, 2011, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, and making a false declaration in relation to a bankruptcy proceeding, and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 1, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. Efrain Garcia, 41, of Las Vegas, entered his guilty plea on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering, and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 31, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. Both defendants also agreed to forfeit $4,401,548 in cash and one house, all of which were proceeds from the crimes.
"I would like to commend all of the agencies that investigated this case," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Fraud cases such as this require significant resources and inter-agency cooperation to develop, investigate and prosecute. We are very pleased to have put a stop to this fraudulent activity."
Co-defendant Francisco Garcia, 41, pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, and false representation of a social security number, and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 3, 2012.
A fourth defendant, Nabor Garcia, 32 of Las Vegas, is scheduled to plead guilty next Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
From about November 2007 to September 2009, the defendants 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 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.