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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Former Social Security Administration Employee Pleads Guilty to Obtaining Unauthorized Benefits

FRESNO, Calif. — Martin Hernandez, 45, of Selma, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain unauthorized Social Security benefit payments, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, Hernandez met Social Security benefit recipients through his employment at the Social Security Administration. Hernandez recruited certain recipients to receive fraudulent payments in addition to the benefits that they were entitled to receive. These recipients agreed to return a substantial amount of the money they received from the fraudulent payments back to Hernandez. Hernandez electronically initiated the payments from his workstation at the Social Security Administration offices where he worked. After Hernandez caused the beneficiaries to receive the fraudulent overpayments, he would instruct them to meet him in person to give him cash. During the course of the scheme, Hernandez caused the Social Security Administration to make unauthorized payments of over $446,000.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McKeon is prosecuting the case.

Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on Jan. 13, 2020. Hernandez faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will 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.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 
1:18-cr-152 DAD
Updated October 1, 2019