HOUSTON - Carlos Melchor-Sanchez, 47, of Houston, has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction on one count of theft of government funds from the Social Security Disability Insurance fund, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. He entered a plea of guilty to the charge in November 2012.
Today, U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr., who accepted the guilty plea, sentenced Melchor-Sanchez to 21 months in prison. He also was ordered to pay $83,764 in restitution to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Melchor-Sanchez will also be required to serve a term of three years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
During his plea, Melchor-Sanchez admitted that from February 1996 through March 2012, he stole approximately $83,000 from the SSA. Melchor-Sanchez admitted he applied for SSA Disability Insurance Benefits using the identity and SSA record of a person named Hector Contreras and began receiving SSA disability benefits in that name beginning in February 1996. He also admitted he had obtained a Texas Driver License (TDL) in the name of Hector Contreras. Melchor-Sanchez admitted he took various actions to maintain the flow of SSA benefits, including swearing to a false affidavit in that false name which he submitted to SSA claiming he was the victim of identity theft.
In response to a letter from the SSA in August 2008 alerting him that his benefits would be terminated an arrest warrant from Woodland, Calif., for Hector Contreras, Melchor-Sanchez sent his fingerprints to the Superior Court of Yolo County. It was determined, based on a fingerprint comparison, that he was not the Hector Contreras wanted in that county. Melchor-Sanchez forwarded the county court letter to the SSA and continued receiving benefits.
In August 2009, Melchor-Sanchez opened an account at JP Morgan Chase using the Contreras identity and Social Security number. For identification, Melchor-Sanchez used the TDL he obtained in Contreras’ name and a credit card also issued in that name. Melchor-Sanchez also admitted he was deported previously to Mexico on March 10, 1993, and had not been granted permission to re-enter the United States.
Melchor-Sanchez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The criminal charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the SSA Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Al Balboni.