Florida Couple Sentenced in Government Benefits Fraud Case

Date: 
Friday, April 11, 2014
Office Affiliation: 

 Press Release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida, here

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Lester Fernandez, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General, Ric Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Thomas Caul, Special Agent in Charge, Social Security Administration (SSA), Office of Inspector General, Atlanta Field Division, Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of  Agriculture (USDA), Office of Inspector General, and Brian P. Martens, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), announce that Gloria Nereida Valle-Clas, 49, and Alexander Gonzalez, 41, of Loxahatchee, were sentenced today in West Palm Beach before United States Senior District Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp.    

Valle-Clas was sentenced to 51 months in prison, three years supervised release, and restitution of $283,359.43. Gonzalez, her husband, was sentenced to 364 days in prison, three years supervised release, and $9,999 in restitution. 

Valle-Clas previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and one count of making a false statement to HUD, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Gonzalez pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting Valle-Clas in making a false statement to HUD, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. 

According to the indictment, and as made public at the plea and sentencing hearings, Valle-Clas obtained two social security numbers (SSN), one which was originally associated with her birth name, “Nereida Valle,” and one which was originally associated with the name “Gloria Lopes Clas.” From at least December 2003 to January 2013, she used the SSN for “Nereida Valle” to obtain almost $500,000 in federal housing, social security, food, cash, and medical benefits from HUD, SSA, USDA and HHS. At the same time, she used the SSN for “Gloria Lopes Clas” to obtain mortgage loans and buy real estate in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties. As “Gloria Clas,” she sold two Broward properties for a profit of over $200,000. She also purchased over an acre of property in Loxahatchee on which she built an approximately 2,700 square foot residence. After the residence was built, she received a $200,000 HELOC collateralized by the property, but defaulted on it owing over $150,000. At various times, her husband, Gonzalez, assisted her in obtaining housing benefits. 

Valle-Clas, who formally changed her name from “Nereida Valle” to “Gloria Nereida Valle-Clas” in 2003, used approximately 12 aliases in perpetrating the scheme, most of which were variations on “Nereida Valle” and “Gloria Lopes Clas.”       

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of HUD-Office of Inspector General, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, SSA-Office of Inspector General, USDA-Office of Inspector General, and the HHS-OIG. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Bell. 

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.