LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A Las Vegas resident pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to fraudulently obtaining nearly $1.2 million in Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.
Javier Montano, 57, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey on December 14, 2020.
According to court documents, Montano — who was the branch manager of a bank in Las Vegas — received information about two accounts with large balances and no activity:
- The first account (Account A) was held by a Las Vegas resident who was receiving SSA retirement benefits. The individual passed away in February 1997. The SSA was not notified about the individual’s death, and benefits continued to be paid into the account.
- The second account (Account B) was held by a Las Vegas resident who was receiving both SSA retirement benefits and VA benefits. The individual passed away in June 2011. Neither the SSA nor the VA was notified about the individual’s death, and benefits continued to accumulate in the account.
Through a bank computer, Montano ordered debit cards for both accounts, using them to withdraw cash — which he either spent or deposited into his personal bank account — and to make purchases for his personal use and benefit. In addition, Montano ordered and wrote checks (for his personal use) for Account B. Montano also used his authority as a branch manager to authorize a $35,000 cashier’s check from Account B. He then used the funds to buy a luxury car, which he has agreed to forfeit to the United States.
In total, between August 2015 and June 2020, Montano fraudulently obtained: (a) approximately $436,686.80 in SSA benefits to which he was not entitled; and (b) approximately $757,985.88 in VA benefits to which he was not entitled.
The statutory maximum penalty faced by Montano is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, and Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie Mickelson is prosecuting the case.