A Tijuana man pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego Thursday to masquerading as a U.S. citizen for 37 years to illegally enter the country and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal, state and local government benefits.
Andres Avelino Anduaga, 66, admitted during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Schopler that he stole the identity of an American citizen in 1980, using the victim’s birth certificate to apply for a Social Security number and, later, for disability benefits in his name.
From 1989 until 2016, Anduaga received almost $250,000 in Supplemental Security Income benefits and over $100,000 in health benefits in the name of his victim, according to prosecutors.
Anduaga also conceded that during an interview with federal agents in 2015, he falsely claimed to be living in the United States, as required for an individual receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits, when in fact he was residing in Baja California.
Anduaga also admitted to illegally seeking CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits from San Diego County by impersonating the same victim and thereafter fraudulently taking more than $12,000 in additional government benefits.
As a part of his plea, Anduaga admitted that he is not an American citizen and that he has been deported from the United States on at least two prior occasions under yet another name.
Anduaga admitted that despite being deported from the country, he was able to travel freely between the United States and Mexico using the U.S. passport he had applied for in the name of his victim, using the same birth certificate and fraudulently-obtained Social Security number he used to defraud the government for decades.
“The programs that this defendant stole from — for decades — provide benefits to America’s most needy,” U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said.
As a part of his plea agreement, Anduaga agreed to pay full restitution to the Social Security Administration, the California Department of Health Care Services, and San Diego County for the roughly $360,000 in government benefits he fraudulently obtained by his crimes.
Anduaga faces up to 12 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $971,800 at his sentencing, scheduled for May 29.
–City News Service
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