LAS VEGAS – Two men pleaded guilty yesterday for their involvement in a conspiracy to apply for and use Nevada and California unemployment insurance benefits debit cards that were issued in other peoples’ names.
Luigi J. Montes (42), of Sugar Land, Texas, and Peter Alexander Stincer (34), of Sylmar, California, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. U.S. District Judge Richard F. Boulware scheduled sentencing for June 5, 2023.
According to court documents and admissions made in court, from at least March 2020 to January 2021, Montes, Stincer, and co-defendant Alexander Hoyos Rivera, of Marion, Ohio, conspired to submit fraudulent unemployment insurance claims with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) and the California Employment Development Department (EDD). As part of the scheme, they used stolen personal identifying information – such as victim names, dates of birth, and social security numbers – to defraud DETR and EDD. Once the claims were approved, unemployment insurance debit cards were sent to mailing addresses to which the defendants had access. After receiving the debit cards, they withdrew the funds at various ATMs located in several states, including Nevada, California, and Texas. In total, DETR, EDD, and other state agencies approved at least $934,129 in benefits for these fraudulent claims. During the conspiracy, the defendants fraudulently obtained at least $698,655 in benefits for their personal use.
At sentencing, Montes and Stincer each face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a term of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
United States Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Spencer L. Evans for the FBI made the announcement.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Fang 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 https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
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: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.