Mexican National Admits Impersonating American Citizen and Stealing Government Benefits
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924 and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Perry (619) 546-7964
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 1, 2018
SAN DIEGO – Andres Avelino Anduaga of Tijuana, Mexico, pleaded guilty to theft charges in federal court today, admitting that he assumed the identity of an American citizen for 37 years to illegally enter the country and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal, state and local government benefits.
During a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler, Anduaga acknowledged that he took the identity of an American citizen in 1980, using the victim’s birth certificate to apply for a Social Security number and later, for disability benefits in his victim’s name. From 1989 until 2016, Anduaga admitted that he received almost a quarter-million dollars in Supplemental Security Income benefits, and over a hundred thousand dollars in health benefits, in the name of his victim. Anduaga also admitted that during an interview with federal agents in 2015, he falsely claimed to be living in the United States, as required for an individual receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits, when in fact he was living in Tijuana, Mexico. Anduaga also admitted to illegally seeking CalFresh / Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits from San Diego County by impersonating the same victim, and thereafter fraudulently taking more than $12,000 in additional government benefits.
As a part of his plea, Anduaga admitted that he is not an American citizen, and that he had in fact been deported from the United States on at least two prior occasions under yet another name. Anduaga admitted that despite his deportations, he was able to travel freely between the United States and Mexico using the United States passport that he had applied for in the name of his victim, using the same birth certificate and fraudulently-obtained Social Security number he used to defraud the government for decades.
“The programs that this defendant stole from – for decades – provide benefits to America’s most needy,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “This prosecution demonstrates the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office to protecting the integrity of our welfare programs and punishing those who prey on the goodwill of our nation and its taxpayers.”
“The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General is committed to pursuing those individuals who violate the public trust wherever they may be found,” said Robb Stickley, the Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division, which is responsible for Southern California. “We will continue to uphold the integrity of the Supplemental Security Income program and other federal and state needs-based assistance programs that are a lifeline for so many Americans and their families."
U.S. Border Patrol Spokesman Michael Scappechio said: “Criminal cases in the border region oftentimes have an immigration nexus. In the spirit of law enforcement collaboration, the U.S. Border Patrol supports local, state and other federal partners in the prosecution of people who violate our nation’s immigration laws.”
As a part of his plea agreement, Anduaga agreed to pay full restitution to the Social Security Administration, the California Department of Health Care Services, and the County of San Diego for the $360,908.85 in government benefits that he fraudulently obtained by his crimes. Anduaga faces up to 12 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $971,817.70 at his sentencing before U.S. District Judge. John A. Houston on May 29, 2018.
DEFENDANT Case Number 17-cr-4461-JAH
Andres Avelino Anduaga Age 66 Tijuana, Mx.
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Theft of Public Property – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 641
Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment, $721,817.70 fine, restitution
Removed Alien Found in United States – Title 8, U.S.C. Section 1326(a)
Maximum penalty: 2 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine
Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General
United States Border Patrol
United States Customs and Border Protection
California Department of Health Care Services
California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Division
Bureau of Public Assistance Investigations, County of San Diego