Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 | 3:32 p.m.
A man charged with using undocumented immigrants to fraudulently obtain more than $4.4 million in unemployment benefits pleaded guilty Monday, Nevada’s U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden announced.
Francisco Garcia, 41, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering and false representation of a Social Security number, officials said.
Garcia must forfeit $4,401,548 in cash and five houses in Las Vegas, which were proceeds from the crimes, officials said.
According to the plea agreement, Garcia and three codefendants fraudulently submitted at least 591 unemployment claims to the state. As a result, the state paid unemployment insurance benefits, emergency unemployment compensation benefits, federal additional compensation benefits and state extended benefits, which exceeded $4.4 million, authorities said.
The defendants committed the fraud by recruiting people illegally in the United States to apply for unemployment benefits and obtained their personal identifying information and work history, officials said.
From there, the defendants submitted fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits through the state’s telephone hotline number and website, officials said. They produced false notarized affidavits of identity, if the state had questions about the person’s identify, officials said.
The defendants either told the undocumented immigrants that their claims were not accepted or gave them a portion of the benefits before telling them the claims were no longer being paid, officials said. Meanwhile, the defendants continued accepting the payments.
Officials expect the other defendants to enter guilty pleas Wednesday and Thursday.
Garcia, who faces up to 35 years in prison and $750,000 in fines, will be sentenced Feb. 3, 2012.