Leticia Garcia, a woman from the round lake beach has been sentenced to four years in federal prison. She was found to be involved in defrauding Illinois in unemployment benefits. As per the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the fraud amount has been reported to be nearly $7 million.
Leticia Garcia, who is 54 is charged for helping many people mostly the undocumented immigrants in claiming the unemployment insurance. She intentionally filed those applications with false information as per Nicholas Eichenseer, an assistant attorney in the case.
The state program against which the fraud was accomplished, is designed to assist those in need of jobs and is solely for state residents who wanted to get back on their feet.
Nicholas Eichenseer stated while in the sentencing memorandum, “Her crime diminished the resources available to eligible claimants who played by the rules.”
He also added that the unemployment applications included invalid Social Security numbers, phony dependents and false assertions of U.S. citizenship. He said that because of the fraud, approximately $6.8 million was paid to hundreds of ineligible claimants by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
To the charges, Garcia pleaded guilty. The plead was made earlier this year to three count of mail fraud. However, she has been sentenced to four years in prison by Edmond E. Chang an U.S. District Judge in federal court in Chicago.
The sentence was announced by Joel Levin who is an acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and James Vanderberg who was appointed in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General in Chicago as the special agent-in-charge.
During the sentencing, Vanderberg told, “Garcia defrauded taxpayers of millions of dollars by assisting hundreds of ineligible workers in their efforts to receive unemployment insurance benefits intended for Americans who were out of work. The Office of Inspector General will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who attempt to fraudulently obtain money from Department of Labor programs.”
The investigation revealed that most of the clients of Gracia were Mexican-born immigrants. These people did not have lawful immigration status or U.S. work permits which made them ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Gracia was operating though her garage converted office from 2006 through May 2012. It is also reported that each day she was seeing as many as 15 clients and never asked for immigration papers.
To file the applications, Gracia charged $300-$400 from her clients and made them pay half of the amount during filing the application and rest after the benefits were received. She was hiding the money in the bank account with her daughter’s name.
There were attempts made to reach the representative of Gracia after the sentence was made on Monday, but it failed.
Authorities have appreciated the efforts of the Illinois Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations for providing assistance in the investigation.