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Financial Crimes

Owners of Mexican restaurant indicted in $2 million life insurance fraud scheme

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The husband and wife owners of Cazadores Mexican restaurant in Pensacola were federally indicted yesterday with conspiring to and committing mail fraud, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Florida Department of Financial Services' Fraud Division.

Ismael B. Rodriguez, 45, and his wife, Maria Rodriguez, 41, are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud based upon a fraudulent life insurance claim.

The indictment outlines a scheme where the defendants traveled to Mexico in 2008 and faked the death of Ismael B. Rodriguez. Maria Rodriguez is alleged to have then returned to the United States with a fraudulent Mexican death certificate in an attempt to obtain approximately $2 million worth of life insurance on her husband. In reality, Ismael B. Rodriguez was alive and later located by law enforcement.

The pair made their initial appearance yesterday in federal court for the Northern District of Florida before U.S. Magistrate Judge Miles Davis. Judge Davis ordered that both be subject to electronic home monitoring pending trial.

If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison on each count.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Goldberg.