CHICAGO — A local man was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison for engaging in a fraud scheme that caused the Illinois Department of Employment Insurance (IDES) to pay about $480,000 in unemployment insurance payments to more than 55 ineligible claimants who were not legally allowed to work in the United States.
The sentence was announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; James Vanderberg, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General in Chicago; Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago; and Thomas P. Brady, inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal inspection Service in Chicago.
The defendant, Roberto Cisneros, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in January and was sentenced May 16 by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber. Cisneros admitted that more than half of the fraudulently obtained proceeds, about $261,017, was deposited into bank accounts he controlled.
Cisneros, 34, who was in the country illegally when he was arrested in June 2011, has remained in federal custody and will be subject to deportation following completion of his sentence. He was ordered to pay restitution totaling $479,571 to IDES.
According to court documents, between 2006 and 2009 Cisneros accepted money to assist individuals whom he knew were ineligible for unemployment insurance payments by aiding a cohort in submitting fraudulent applications for benefits to an IDES employee for processing.
Unbeknownst to Cisneros, the individual to whom he provided the false applications had later begun cooperating with law enforcement. Cisneros knew that the claims he submitted and assisted in submitting for unemployment insurance were fraudulent because the claimants were not legally allowed to work in the United States due to their immigration status, making them ineligible to receive unemployment insurance payments.
Cisneros admitted assisting in obtaining unemployment insurance benefits on behalf of 57 individuals using Social Security numbers that did not match their names and/or dates of birth, numbers that were not issued by the Social Security Administration, or whose numbers matched their names but were not eligible to work in the United States.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Halley B. Guren and Matthew Getter, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted the case.