FRESNO- On November 13, 2018, Raul Oropeza Lopez, 51, and Ana Maria Oropeza, 45, both of Delano, were sentenced for their roles in a million dollar-plus unemployment insurance fraud scheme. Raul Oropeza Lopez was sentenced to three years and one month in prison and to ordered to pay $1,283,160 in restitution. Ana Maria Oropeza was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to serve eight months on house arrest. The defendants were also ordered to forfeit more than $167,00 in seized cash.
According to court documents, Raul Oropeza Lopez obtained social security numbers, names, and other personal identifying information of U.S. citizens and legal residents and then fraudulently used that information to provide undocumented workers with false identities required to work in the United States as farm laborers. Then, when the undocumented workers were laid off at the end of the growing season, Raul Oropeza Lopez and his wife filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in the names of the assumed identities, relying on the work performed by the undocumented workers to fraudulently claim unemployment insurance benefits. Over a period of six years, the couple submitted more than 520 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims on behalf of more than 70 individuals.
“For six years this couple stole benefits meant for those in need of assistance in between jobs,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “And they did so by stealing identifying information from unsuspecting people. A lot of law enforcement teams were involved in this investigation and I commend them for working together and not only for putting a stop to these criminals but seeing that they pay for their crimes.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General; Homeland Security Investigations; Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the California Employment Development Department, Criminal Investigations Division. Assistant United States Attorney Mark J. McKeon prosecuted the case