Accountant from Rio Arriba County Sentenced to More Than Nine Years in Federal Prison for Conviction on Conspiracy, Mail Fraud and Identity Theft Charges
Jasonn Gonzales was Ring Leader of Multi-State Scheme to Defraud the
Federal and State Unemployment Insurance Systems of $1,356,000.00
ALBUQUERQUE – Jasonn Gonzales, 42, an accountant from Velarde, N.M., was sentenced this afternoon for his conviction on conspiracy, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges arising out of a scheme to defraud the federal and state unemployment insurance systems. Gonzales was ordered to serve 111 months (9.25 years) in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. Gonzales also was ordered to pay $804,735.73 in restitution to the victims of his criminal conduct.
The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez; David Wickersham Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Frauds Investigations; and R.L. Faulkerson, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Fort Worth Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Gonzales and his co-defendant, Gerald Archuleta, 43, of Ojo Caliente, N.M., were charged in a six-count indictment that was filed on March 26, 2014. Count 1 charged the two men with conspiracy to commit mail fraud in furtherance of a scheme to defraud the federal and state Unemployment Insurance System in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado of money by false and fraudulent pretenses. Counts 2 through 5 of the indictment charged the men with mail fraud, and Count 6 charges Gonzales alone with aggravated identity theft.
The federal and state Unemployment Insurance System seeks to lessen the effects of unemployment through payments made to claimants (laid-off workers) on a weekly basis while the claimants seek employment. The unemployment insurance program is administered on behalf of the federal government by state workforce agencies in each state. The investigation of this case established that between 2009 and 2012, Gonzales and Archuleta schemed to defraud the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the Texas Workforce Commission and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment of more than $1,356,000.00 by making false and fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits in the names of real people.
Gonzales and Archuleta perpetuated their unlawful scheme by fraudulently registering numerous non-existent companies with the three state workforce agencies and filing false quarterly reports for the fictitious companies which identified claimed employees. The two men provided the names, dates of birth and social security numbers of the claimed employees to the state agencies without the knowledge or authorization of the claimed employees, who were real people. Gonzales and Archuleta then made false and fraudulent claims for unemployment benefit claims on behalf of the claimed employees of the fictitious companies. The men opened post office boxes in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado, which they provided to the three state workforce agencies as mailing addresses for the claimed employees. The state agencies mailed debit cards to the claimed employees at the post office boxes and the defendants used the debit cards to withdraw the fraudulently obtained benefits. During the life of the conspiracy, Gonzales and Archuleta submitted fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits in the aggregate amount of $1,356,461.00, and defrauded the three state workforce agencies of approximately $804,735.73 in total.
On Aug. 18, 2014, Gonzales pled guilty to all six counts of the indictment without the benefit of a plea agreement. In entering his guilty plea, Gonzales agreed to the entry of a money judgment against him that requires him to pay restitution to the victims of his crime. Today, the court ordered Gonzales, jointly with Archuleta, to pay restitution to the victims as follows: $247,929.00 to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solution; $488,107.00 to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; and $68,699.73 to the Texas Workforce Commission.
On Oct. 24, 2014, Archuleta entered a guilty plea to Count 1 through 5 of the indictment. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Archuleta will be sentenced to a prison term within the range of 87 to 108 months to be followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. The plea agreement also requires Archuleta, jointly with Gonzales, to pay $734,123.73 in restitution. Archuleta’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2015.
“Defrauding the unemployment insurance program undercuts an important part of our social safety net and harmed workers, employers, and those trying to get back to work,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez. “I commend the work of the investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Postal Inspection Service for making sure that those who defraud programs designed to protect workers and their families during periods of unemployment are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Today’s sentencing highlights the Office of Inspector General’s commitment to investigating fraud against the U.S. Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance program,” said Special Agent in Charge David Wickersham of the Dallas Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate fictitious employer schemes that compromise the integrity of the program and hold accountable those responsible for fraud against Department of Labor programs.”
“The sentence imposed on Gonzales should serve as a strong deterrent to others who intend to misuse and exploit the nation's mail system to commit fraud,” said U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge R.L. Faulkerson of the Fort Worth Division of the Postal Inspection Service. “For more than 200 years, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been in the forefront of securing the world's largest mail system. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service remains committed to our mission of enforcing the laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensuring the public's trust in the mail.”
This case was investigated by the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Frauds Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara C. Neda.