Defendants Sentenced in Unemployment Benefits Fraud Case
Las Vegas, Nev. – Four Las Vegas men who used undocumented persons to help them unlawfully obtain millions of dollars of unemployment benefits from Nevada and the federal government, were sentenced this week to federal prison terms, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Francisco Garcia, 41, was sentenced today to 37 months in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, and false representation of a social security number.
Nabor Garcia, 33, was sentenced on Thursday to two years in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.
Eloy Garcia, 33, was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 months in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, and making a false declaration in relation to a bankruptcy proceeding.
Efrain Garcia, 41, was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.
U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan sentenced all of the men. Judge Mahan also ordered them to forfeit the real properties purchased with the fraudulently-obtained monies, and to serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution to in the amount of $4.4 million.
"The extent of this fraud was staggering considering that the defendants obtained over $4 million illegally in amounts less than $1,000," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "My thanks to our law enforcement team for putting a stop to this fraudulent activity."
"This week's sentencings send a powerful message that combating unemployment insurance fraud remains a priority for the OIG," said Abel Salinas, Special Agent-in-Charge, of the Los Angeles Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate those who violate the law by obtaining benefits to which they are not entitled."
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 was 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 was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicholas D. Dickinson and Kathryn C. Newman.