(CNSNews.com) -- Mexican national and two-time deportee Andres Avelino Anduaga was sentenced on July 13 to 37 months in federal prison for stealing over $350,000 in government benefits – federal, state, and local -- while impersonating an American citizen for over 30 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
In addition to his 37-month sentence, Aduaga was ordered to repay $360,908.85 in restitution to the Social Security Administration, the California Department of Health Care Services and the County of San Diego.
“In 1980, Anduaga used a birth certificate belonging to a United States citizen to obtain a California Driver’s License and a Social Security card,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office in a statement. “Already a convicted felon, Anduaga used his new identity to commit a variety of crimes over the next 22 years.”
As he admitted in his plea agreement, Anduaga used a stolen identity to apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration in 1989. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that “Anduaga received almost $250,000 in Social Security benefits that he was not entitled to receive through 2016.”
As a result of the Social Security benefits, Anduaga was also able to get MediCal health benefits that further cost the taxpayers of California more than $100,000. “Even after his Social Security was terminated in 2016, Anduaga signed up for CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition (SNAP) benefits and continued to receive those benefits right up until his arrest in November 2017,” reported the Attorney’s Office.
In addition to his “Theft of Public Property,” U.S. District Judge John Houston also sentenced Anduaga for living in the United States illegally.
“Anduaga admitted that, despite twice being deported as ‘Jose Reyes’ in 1994 and 2000, he was able to return and travel freely between the United States and Mexico using a U.S. passport that he obtained using the same stolen identity he used to defraud public assistance programs,” reads the statement.
“The theft of Social Security benefits is a direct attack on the most vulnerable and needy members of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “Every dollar stolen through this kind of fraud reduces the funds available to our retirees and other worthy beneficiaries.”
“It is this kind of malicious theft of identity and people’s hard-earned benefits which highlights the need for vigilance and thoroughness in all encounters which Border Patrol Agents undertake to thwart this kind of illegal activity,” said Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott. “This successful collaboration between the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Border Patrol and the Department of Justice highlights the need for, and importance of, cooperation among law enforcement partners.”