Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Raul Gonzalez (63, Seffner) has pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft. Gonzalez faces a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison.
According to the plea agreement, Gonzalez applied for a United States passport on January 31, 2019. He used the identity of his deceased twin brother, Miguel Angel Gonzalez Rodriguez, in his passport application. Gonzalez also presented a driver license in his brother’s name and a baptism certificate bearing his deceased brother’s name and identity. United States Department of State investigators became aware of the possibility of fraud in this application and began an investigation. Their investigation revealed that Miguel Gonzalez was born on the same date as Raul Gonzalez but that Miguel had died a few days later due to dehydration and gastroenteritis. Further investigation revealed that this same “Miguel Gonzalez,” with the same date of birth and other similar identifiers, had applied over different points in time for Social Security, SNAP, and Medicaid/Medicare benefits. This purported “Miguel Gonzalez” then obtained over $145,000 from those various federal benefits programs using that false identity. As part of his plea agreement with the United States, the defendant has agreed to pay restitution to those agencies for those losses.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Social Security – Office of Inspector General, and further assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay L. Hoffer.