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Press Release

Previously Deported Mexican National Pleads Guilty To Illegal Reentry And Covid-19 Related Fraud And Identity Theft Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

SCRANTON- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Pedro Hernandez-Romero, age 30, a citizen of Mexico, pleaded guilty on July 19, 2022, to the offenses of illegal reentry of a removed alien, social security account fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Hernandez-Romero, a previously deported alien, pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the country without authorization and subsequently using the identity and social security number of a United States citizen to obtain COVID-19 related benefits, including approximately $26,000.00 in Pennsylvania Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.     

This matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations.  Assistant United States Attorney Jeffery St John is prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:

The maximum penalty under federal law for these offenses is 9 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

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Updated July 25, 2022