Santa Ana Couple Accused of Faking Death in Order to Defraud Social Security

August 3, 2011

The Orange County District Attorney's Office alleges that a Santa Ana couple faked the husband's death in order to steal more than $400,000 in Social Security and other pension benefits over seven years, The Orange County Register reports.

The 51-year-old husband and his 52-year-old wife are each charged with two counts of grand theft with sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and property loss over $200,000, the newspaper reports.
Fraud in Santa Ana and other white collar crimes designed to obtain money are some of the most complex in the legal system. They typically require intense analysis and scrutiny of financial records, bank statements and other information. This must be entrusted to an experienced Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney.

If convicted, the newspaper reports, each spouse faces up to seven years and eight months in prison. They are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail. According to authorities, the man lived for about two decades under a false name. In 2004, after plotting with his wife to fake a death under that name, he traveled to Mexico to obtained a death certificate for a fake heart attack after bribing authorities.

He then returned to the United States and began living under his real name with his wife. Later that year, the wife began receiving death benefits until the couple was arrested recently. Authorities received a tip, which led to the arrests, the newspaper says.

This case, and others like it, require a lot of digging by prosecutors and law enforcement officers, who must sift through many records in order to prove a case. And sometimes even doing that isn't enough. In this case, it appears prosecutors will require cooperation from Mexican authorities, which is no easy task.

Many times, fraud can be explained as simple mistakes in business deals or for individuals, incorrect paperwork that was filed on either end of a transaction. But along with possible prison time, these charges can require defendants to pay back money that is proven to be stolen.

This is called restitution and can be a heavy burden on a defendant. While the amount must be proven by the prosecution, a defendant may be required to pay back hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars in theft cases. And this must be done even after being sent to prison, making paying the money back even more difficult.

That's why Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorneys take these charges so seriously. On top of the punishment of prison, there are other sanctions that must be taken into consideration and defended against. The first step if you are being investigated is to contact a firm for a free consultation to discuss the case and come up with possible defense options.

If you are facing criminal charges in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. to discuss your options. Through three decades of experienced, Attorney LaBarbera has argued over 200 criminal trials and appeals. Call (714) 541-9668 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Being Convicted of a Crime in Santa Ana can have Long-Term Consequences: May 6, 2011

New Port Beach Elder Fraud Case Calls into Question Legitimacy of Power-of-Attorney: April 18, 2011

Additional Resources:

Couple accused of faking death due in court, by Vik Jolly, The Orange County Register