Caldwell Woman Sentenced for Bank Fraud

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

BOISE – A Caldwell woman was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison for bank fraud.

According to court records, Melissa A. Castellanos, 52, of Caldwell, worked as a financial specialist and office Manager at Aspire Human Services in Idaho. Her duties included overseeing the Social Security Administration payee accounts for residents of Aspire’s intermediate care facilities. The intermediate care facilities provided residential and vocational services to developmentally-delayed or intellectually-challenged or disabled adults. From at least July 2015 through August 2017, Castellanos executed a scheme to defraud that included preparing and cashing checks for fraudulent purchases on residents’ accounts. Castellanos wrote inaccurate descriptions in the memo lines of the checks to help conceal her actions. After preparing and signing the checks for fraudulent purchases, Castellanos cashed the checks. In violation of company policy, Castellanos went to the bank alone, instead of brining the residents whose money she was taking. Castellanos kept the cash and did not provide it to the residents or use it to purchase the goods identified in the memo lines.

Senior U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also ordered Castellanos to serve five years supervised release following her prison sentence and to pay $39,950.89 in restitution.

“Stealing social security benefits from vulnerable victims is a serious crime,” said U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. “This office will continue to work with SSA and other agencies to protect the public from defendants who are willing to abuse a position of trust for financial gain. Together with our partners at SSA Office of the Inspector General, we will continue to hold accountable those who commit crimes involving Social Security benefits.”

“Ms. Castellanos abused her position of trust to steal the funds of Social Security beneficiaries who relied on the agency to provide for their essential needs. My office will continue to hold accountable individuals who commit Social Security fraud,” said Christian Assaad, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, Seattle Field Division. “I want to thank our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their work in this case.”

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the Boise Police Department.

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