McALLEN — An Edinburg man and six others are accused of stealing more than $500,000 in federal funds over the course of 10 years, court records show.
On Monday, Jose Luis Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to four counts of money laundering. The 37-year-old man allegedly conspired with others to steal money from the government by submitting fraudulent unemployment insurance claims at the request of his co-conspirators with the Texas Workforce Commission.
According to the complaint against Gonzalez, filed Oct. 22, he would file a fake unemployment insurance claim by “wired communication,” creating a fake employer account, including a fake company, address, company information, hourly wages and telephone number.
The Texas Workforce Commission would mail a “Notice of Application Unemployment Benefits” letter to the fake employer at the address controlled by Gonzalez or one of the co-conspirators, “in order to verify whether the co-conspirator listed on the unemployment insurance claim worked” for the fake employer, the complaint stated.
Gonzalez created several fake businesses, including “Garza’s Welding Service,” “Garza Welding Services,” “Garza Welding,” and “Gonzalez Landscaping & Fencing,” to name a few.
“Upon receipt of the fraudulent response, the TWC would in turn generate and fund a debit card with U.S. currency, funded through the Department of Labor, and mail the debit card to another address controlled by the co-conspirator or Gonzalez,” the documents stated.
The complaint alleges that for this help, Gonzalez would charge a fee.
TWC officials claim that Gonzalez and the co-conspirators who ran the scheme from August 2008 to September 2018 submitted roughly 50 fake unemployment insurance claims — resulting in $531,161 in payouts.
In addition to Gonzalez, Gerardo Anguiano, Jose Anguiano, Luis Chavez, Rene Lopez-Marin and Mario Alberto Ortiz Jr. face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to the indictment against them.
Gerardo Anguiano and Jose Anguiano, who also appeared before a judge Monday, each pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud, and one count of public money, property records.
Jose Anguiano was granted and posted a $30,000 bond. Gerardo Anguiano was also granted a $30,000 bond during the hearing but remains in custody, records show.
Chavez and Ortiz, who remain in custody, were due in court for a detention hearing Tuesday afternoon; while Lopez-Marin, also in custody, was scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday morning, records show.
As for Gonzalez and the two Anguianos, the court set a trial date of Jan. 7, 2020, for their respective cases.