Cynthia Ann Hernandez, a 33-year-old woman from San Bernadino County, plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of access device fraud in excess of $1,000. She is facing a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud and up to 15 years in federal prison for access device fraud.
Inmate Identity Fraud Scheme
In 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was passed by Congress to help assuage the negative financial impact of COVID-19. According to her indictment, Hernandez used the names of persons incarcerated in the California state prison system to file 29 fraudulent applications with the California Employment Development Department for unemployment insurance benefits under the CARES Act. In addition to filing false applications using other people's names, Hernandez also stated that the named claimants were eligible for such benefits because they worked and resided in the Los Angeles and Orange Counties, which is categorically incorrect and deceitful.
The California Employment Development Department believed the applications to be true and authorized Bank of America to issue debit cards in the claimants' names. These cards were mailed to Hernandez's mailing address, and then she used them to withdraw money from ATMs. In all, her grift allegedly cost the U.S. Treasury over $515,000.
Hiring a Skilled Defense Attorney
When innocent defendants are pigeonholed into taking plea deals, it effectively stops their team from defending them. All defendants should be considered innocent until proven guilty, which means they shouldn't be forced or cajoled into a plea deal unless it is the last reasonable option.
Here, Hernandez is facing two statutory maximum sentences of 15-20 years for either count. A skilled attorney could negotiate for the charges to either be dismissed or the sentence substantially lowered. Attorney Vitaly Sigal of Sigal Law Group understands how overwhelming indictments can be. He will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Call 818-325-0579 today for a free consultation. You deserve a creative and efficient defense. Attorney Sigal can help.