Fourth Family Member Sentenced In Benefits Fraud Scheme
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A Belize man who was one of four family members convicted in a scheme to steal almost $300,000 in unemployment funds and benefits from multiple federal agencies, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan to 87 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay approximately $297,000 in restitution, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.
Frederick Vernon Williams, 35, was convicted by a jury in January of 20 counts total, including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, mail fraud, theft of government money, making a false statement in application for a passport, and making false citizenship claims. At sentencing, the judge found that he had been an organizer and leader in the scheme to defraud the agencies.
Williams’ sister, Jacqueline Louisa Gentle, 27, was convicted of nine counts total, including the above charges, misuse of a U.S. passport, and misuse of a social security number, and was sentenced on June 29 to 65 months in prison and ordered to pay $218,000 in restitution. Williams’ wife, Denise Allison Williams, 37, and his other sister, Carolyn Shelmadine Willis-Casey, 40, were each convicted of one count of mail fraud, and sentenced on June 30 to two years of probation and 30 months in prison, respectively. All four family members are citizens of Belize.
“The defendants falsely stated on government paperwork that they were U.S. citizens, and used false identities to steal federal benefits from multiple agencies, including the Departments of Labor, Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, and the Social Security Administration,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “We will continue to use federal laws to prosecute benefits thieves who steal from all Americans through greed and fraud.”
According to the court records and evidence submitted at trial, from about August 2010 to June 2012, defendants Frederick Williams and Jacqueline Gentle, citizens of Belize, conspired to register two fictitious companies, Luna Consulting and Centro America Export, with the State of Nevada, Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR). After the companies were registered with DETR, the defendants conspired to submit fraudulent wage information for 16 fictitious employees, including themselves. After submitting the fraudulent wage information, the defendants submitted fraudulent unemployment compensation claims to DETR, and obtained unemployment compensation payments totaling approximately $218,000. The unemployment compensation payments were transferred to the defendants by means of Nevada debit cards mailed to the fictitious employees, which the defendants and co-defendants used to withdraw cash from ATM’s.
Frederick Williams and Gentle also made false statements in applications for U.S. passports by stating that their father was a U.S. citizen and by stating in other government paperwork that they were U.S. citizens, when they well knew that they were not citizens of the United States but were citizens of Belize.
Frederick Williams and Gentle also falsely stated that they were U.S. citizens in applications for other government benefit programs such as social security, federal student aid (Pell grants), food stamps, and Medicaid. Williams was able to fraudulently obtain approximately $33,184 in social security benefits, $10,900 in Pell grants, $33,814 in food stamp benefits, and $1,132 in Medicaid benefits.
Denise Williams fraudulently caused DETR to pay unemployment benefits in her name, and Carolyn Willis-Casey caused a notice for payment of unemployment benefits to be sent to her.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jiamin Chen and investigated by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, the Offices of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Labor, Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security Investigations.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.com.