Laredo Resident Charged with Defrauding the Department of Labor
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 21, 2013|
LAREDO, TX—Sergio Hinojosa, 55, a resident alien living in Laredo, has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, theft of public money, mail fraud, and wire fraud, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
The sealed criminal complaint was filed Friday, May 17 and was unsealed upon his arrest by federal authorities this morning. He is set for an initial appearance tomorrow morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga, at which time the government expects to request his detention without bond pending further criminal proceedings.
According to the complaint, Hinojosa allegedly conspired to defraud and committed theft of government property against the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).
Hinojosa allegedly created a scheme in which he filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims at the request of others. The complaint alleges he would file a claim by telephone, at which time he would create a fictitious last employer including the name of the fictitious employer, address, employment dates, hourly wages, and telephone number. TWC would then mail a notice of application for unemployment benefits letter to the fictitious employer to verify employment at an address Hinojosa or others allegedly controlled. Upon receipt of the letter, Hinojosa would then respond by telephone or via fax allegedly purporting to be the employer, according to the allegations.
The complaint alleges TWC would, in turn, generate a debit card, funded through the Department of Labor, and mail the card to another address controlled by Hinojosa or others.
From approximately 2008 to on or about May 13, 2013, 119 suspected fictitious claims attributed to Hinojosa had allegedly been filed, according the complaint. The estimated loss to TWC from the suspected fictitious claims is approximately $721,000.
If convicted, he faces 20 years in federal prison for each of the mail and wire fraud charges, five years for the conspiracy charge, and 10 years for theft of public money. Each charge also carries a $250,000 fine as possible punishment.
The case is being investigated by Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, FBI, the Texas Workforce Commission, and Customs and Border Protection-Internal Affairs. Assistant United States Attorney Roberto Ramirez is prosecuting.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.