Delano Couple Indicted In Unemployment Insurance Scheme
FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today the unsealing of a 10-count indictment following the arrest of Raul Oropeza Lopez, 47, and Ana Maria Oropeza, 41, both of Delano. The Oropezas are charged in the indictment with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with a scheme to submit fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits.
According to court documents, Raul Oropeza Lopez obtained social security numbers, names, and other personal identifying information of U.S. citizens and legal residents and then used the information to provide undocumented workers with false identities so they could work in the United States as farm laborers. Then, when the workers were laid off at the end of the growing season, Oropeza and his wife allegedly filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in the names of the assumed identities, relying on the work performed by the undocumented workers to claim unemployment insurance benefits for the Oropezas’ benefit. Over a period of six years, Oropeza and his wife submitted more than 520 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims on behalf of over 70 individuals, collecting more than $1.8 million.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; United States Postal Inspection Service; and the California Employment Development Department, Criminal Investigations Division. Assistant United States Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.
Both defendants were released on bond. Their next court appearance is before Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto on May 4, 2015.If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.