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Document and Benefit Fraud

South Dakota man pleads guilty to stealing identities to obtain welfare and other benefits

MINNEAPOLIS — A Sioux Falls, S.D., man pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to stealing identities to pass bad checks and to obtain false driver's licenses, welfare benefits, housing assistance, and credit cards. This guilty plea resulted from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

Antonio Antwon Andolini, 36, formerly of New Brighton, Minn., pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft in connection with the crime. Andolini, who was indicted on June 14, entered his plea before U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim.

In his plea agreement, Andolini admitted that beginning in 2008 he obtained the personal identification information of at least 17 people and used that information to obtain money and other things of value. The personal information included names, birth dates, social security numbers, and driver's license numbers. Andolini also admitted using information from several people to obtain driver's licenses and identification cards in at least nine different names.

Andolini used one person's identity to obtain $10,381.91 in benefits from the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department, and $1,190 in housing assistance from Anoka County Community Emergency Assistance Program. Andolini also used this victim's information to rent an apartment and fraudulently obtain credit cards. In addition, Andolini admitted that in July 2008, he used the identity of another victim to rent another apartment, obtain credit cards and receive $367 in benefits from the Hennepin County Human Services.

Andolini has used numerous victims' personal information to create and pass counterfeit checks, rent post office boxes, and acquire an identification card in South Dakota.

For his crimes, Andolini faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for mail fraud and a mandatory two-year minimum prison sentence for each count of aggravated identity theft. Judge Tunheim will determine his sentence at a future hearing.

This case was investigated by the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), a multi-agency task force led by ICE HSI that coordinates investigations into fraudulently obtained documents and government benefits.