By Benjamin Flowers
Four Belizean relatives are spending time in a United States jail for defrauding the U.S. Government of almost US $300,000.
Frederick Vernon Williams, 35; his sister Jacqueline Louisa Gentle, 27; his wife, Denise Allison Williams, 36; and his other sister, Carolyn Shelmadine Willis-Casey, 40, were convicted on Wednesday, bringing an end to a 10-day trial.
Williams and Gentle were convicted of ‘conspiracy to commit mail fraud’, ‘aggravated identity theft’, ‘mail fraud’, ‘theft of government money’, ‘making a false statement in application for a passport’, and ‘making false citizenship claims’.
Frederick Williams, who was living illegally in the US, could be slapped with as much as 290 years in prison, and two to four years consecutive for the two aggravated identity theft counts, and not more than $4.75 million in fines. Gentle could get 83 years in prison, plus two years consecutive for the aggravated identity theft count, and not more than $2 million in fines. Denise Williams and Willis-Casey both face up to 20 years jail time and not more than $250,000 in fines.
According to the US Justice Department, the family had a scheme which spanned from August 2010 to June 2012. Frederick Williams and Jacqueline Gentle, registered two fake companies, Luna Consulting and Centro America Export, with the State of Nevada, Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR).
After registering the companies, they submitted fraudulent salary information for 16 fictitious employees, including themselves, then later filed false unemployment compensation claims to the DETR, to get unemployment compensation payments totaling around $218,000.
The DETR sent the unemployment benefits, loaded onto Nevada debit cards, through the mail, and the family used the cards to withdraw cash from ATM’s.
In addition to the unemployment benefits, Williams and Gentle also gave false information on U.S. Passport applications, claiming that their father was a US citizen. They also lied that they themselves were U.S. citizens on application forms for other government benefit programs such as social security, federal student aid (Pell grants), food stamps, and Medicaid.
In that deceit, Williams managed to fraudulently obtain approximately $33,184 in social security benefits; $10,900 in Pell grants; $33,814 in food stamp benefits and $1,132 in Medicaid benefits.
They are all on remand in the state of Nevada, and are scheduled to be sentenced on Monday April 18.