Man Pleads Guilty to Fraudulently Getting Over $500,000 in COVID-19 Jobless Relief

          Bonifacio Jastilana Marinas, 50,  a San Dimas man pleaded guilty today to a federal criminal mail fraud charge that he obtained more than $500,000 in COVID-19-related unemployment benefits in the names of foreign nationals he falsely claimed were local real estate agents hit hard financially by the pandemic.From April 2020 to August 2020, Marinas used the CARES Act to file about 85 false unemployment insurance claims with the California Employment Development Department (EDD) that asserted  that the claimants were self-employed real estate agents in Los Angeles County whose jobs had been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Marinas often listed his own real estate business – Vintage Realty & Finance Inc., located in West Covina – as the purported workplace of the named claimants. Actually, the named claimants lived n Saipan or the Philippines, were not registered as real estate agents in Los Angeles County, had no employment history in California, and were not eligible for the benefits Marinas claimed. Marinas listed his own residence as the mailing address for each of the named claimants. The debit cards used to distribute the unemployment benefits were mailed to Marinas, who then used them to withdraw the fraudulently obtained funds. Marinas admitted that his scheme caused losses to EDD and the United States Treasury of at least $516,244.

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