Fresno woman charged with benefits fraud related to COVID-19 pandemic
A federal grand jury has filed a six-count indictment against Cecilia Aquino, 34, of Fresno, charging her with mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for submitting documents Unemployment insurance claims; and Small Business Administration (SBA) economic harm and disaster claims. Loans using stolen identities, Interim US Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said.
According to court documents, from June to November 2020, Aquino submitted claims for unemployment benefits in at least seven states and at least four loan applications containing false statements. She claimed that the appointees were last working as freelance dancers and owning interior design companies, and that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they lost their jobs and business income, respectively. The state labor agencies that administer the Unemployment Insurance system, the SBA, and the United States suffered an actual loss of at least $ 220,000 and suffered a potential loss of over $ 350,000 due to the Aquino fraud. Aquino used the money for gambling, rent, shopping, and other personal expenses.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Inspector General of the ASB and the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Labor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is pursuing the case.
If convicted, Aquino faces a maximum legal sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000 on each count of mail and electronic fraud, and a mandatory sentence of two consecutive years. other counts and a fine of up to $ 250,000 for each of the aggravated identity theft counts. However, any sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after considering all applicable statutory factors and federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are just allegations. Aquino is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.