Couple Sentenced to Years in Prison in Scheme that Used Stolen Identities to Steal over $900,000 from California Disability System
LOS ANGELES – A Lancaster couple has been sentenced, with each receiving several years in federal prison, for conspiring to defraud the California Employment Development Department (EDD) by filing fraudulent applications for disability benefits and obtaining more than $900,000 from the agency.
Robert Lee Lett, 48, who during the time of scheme lived in Lancaster and now claims a South Los Angeles residence, was sentenced on Monday to 57 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. His wife, LaTanya Annette Lett, 44, was also sentenced on Monday by Judge Birotte to 46 months in prison.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Birotte ordered the couple to pay restitution in the total amount of $900,711.
The Letts each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud on January 25. According to court documents, including the plea agreements filed in this case, from 2011 to 2015, the Letts defrauded the EDD by filing 127 fraudulent disability applications. These applications were filed in the names of identity theft victims and included bogus certifications of disability with forged doctors’ signatures.
The Letts arranged to have mail received in the victims’ names at a dozen different addresses and repeatedly used the disability benefits cards they received in the mail to withdraw over $900,000 in cash from ATM’s during the four year period.
“This was a serious offense in which the defendants intended to steal at least $1.5 million, and actually obtained more than $900,000 over the course of several years,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Their fraudulent conduct continued even after law enforcement authorities executed a search warrant at their home seeking evidence related to their scheme. The crime was well-planned, repetitious and long-term, which has earned them terms in federal prison.”
This case is the result of an investigation by the Postal Inspection Service, California Employment Development Department, Investigation Division, and the United States Secret Service.