4 Sentenced in Unemployment Scheme

LAS VEGAS -- A federal judge handed prison terms this week to four Las Vegas men who used undocumented individuals to help them unlawfully obtain millions of dollars of unemployment benefits from Nevada and the federal government, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said today.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan sentenced Francisco Garcia, 41, today to 37 months in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, and false representation of a Social Security number. Nabor Garcia, 33, was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.

Eloy Garcia, 33, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering, and making a false declaration in relation to a bankruptcy proceeding. Efrain Garcia, 41, was also sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for his guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.

Mahan also ordered the four men to forfeit real property purchased with the fraudulently-obtained funds and pay $4.4 million in restitution.

"The extent of this fraud was staggering considering that the defendants obtained over $4 million illegally in amounts less than $1,000," Bogden said.

From November 2007 to September 2009, the defendants fraudulently submitted at least 591 unemployment claims to the state of Nevada, causing it to pay $4.4 million in unemployment insurance and other benefits.

The defendants recruited undocumented individuals to apply for unemployment benefits, even though they were not ineligible because they were in the United States illegally. The defendants obtained personal identifying information and work history from the undocumented individuals, and submitted the fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits through the state's unemployment benefit telephone hotline and website. If the state sent the claimant an affidavit to establish identity, the defendants submitted a false notarized affidavit of identity.

When the unemployment claims were accepted the state provided the benefits through debit cards or checks mailed to addresses that the defendants controlled. In some cases, the defendants provided the undocumented workers with a portion of the benefits, and told them that their claims had stopped paying, when in fact the state had continued to pay the claims. In other instances, the defendants told applicants that their unemployment claims were not accepted, when in fact they had been.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, and U.S. Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation's Employment Security Division also assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas Dickinson and Kathryn Newman.


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