Fresno Woman Charged with COVID-19 Pandemic Benefits Fraud | USAO-EDCA
FRESNO, Calif .– A federal grand jury has laid a six-count indictment against Cecilia Aquino, 34, of Fresno, today charging her with mail fraud, wire fraud and identity theft aggravated for submitting unemployment insurance claims and claims for Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Damage and Disaster 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 that contained incorrect statements. She claimed that the appointees last worked as freelance dancers and owned interior design companies, and that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they lost their jobs and income, respectively. commercial. 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 were subject to 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 SBA Office of Inspector General and the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is pursuing the case.
If convicted, Aquino faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000 on each count of mail and electronic fraud, as well as a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence on other counts. charge and a fine of up to $ 250,000 for each aggravated identity theft account. Any sentence, however, 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 accusations are just allegations. Aquino is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.