On May 5th, 2016

Lancaster Couple Sentenced to Prison for Stealing more than $900,000 from California Disability System

csleaLOS ANGELES - A husband and wife from Lancaster have been sentenced to prison for conspiring to defraud the California Employment Development Department (EDD) by filing fraudulent applications for disability benefits and obtaining more than $900,000 from the agency.

Robert Lee Lett, 48,  was sentenced April 25, 2016 to 57 months in federal prison. His wife, LaTanya Annette Lett, 44, was also sentenced, to 46 months in prison.  The couple was also ordered to pay restitution of $900,711.

The Letts each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud on January 25. According to court documents, including the plea agreements filed in this case, from 2011 to 2015, the Letts defrauded EDD by filing 127 fraudulent disability applications. These applications were filed in the names of identity theft victims and included bogus certifications of disability with forged doctors’ signatures.

The Letts arranged to have mail received in the victims’ names delivered at a dozen different addresses and repeatedly used the disability benefits cards they received in the mail to withdraw more than  $900,000 in cash from ATM’s during the four year period.

“This was a serious offense in which the defendants intended to steal at least $1.5 million, and actually obtained more than $900,000 over the course of several years,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Their fraudulent conduct continued even after law enforcement authorities executed a search warrant at their home seeking evidence related to their scheme. The crime was well-planned, repetitious and long-term, which has earned them terms in federal prison.”

This case is the result of an investigation by the Postal Inspection Service, California Employment Development Department, Investigation Division, and the United States Secret Service.

"Stealing close to a million dollars by stealing the identity of others and filing bogus applications for disability benefits through EDD has cost this cheating couple their freedom," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  "State investigators don't often have a spotlight on them for the work they do or the amount of money California gets back from law breakers who cash in by fraudulent means.  This fraud in this case went on for years, thankfully justice is served."

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