From the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Nevada:
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A former branch manager of a bank in Las Vegas was sentenced today to two years and six months in prison after pleading guilty to fraudulently obtaining nearly $1.2 million in Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada; Inspector General for the Social Security Administration Gail S. Ennis; and VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal.
“The Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs provide a lifeline to members of society who are eligible, and provide benefits to veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Our office and our agency partners are committed to safeguarding these programs and prosecuting those who would abuse these essential services.”
“We must hold those in positions of trust accountable when they abuse that trust and misuse their authority for personal gain,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “We will continue to work with SSA and other agencies to identify unreported deaths and aggressively pursue those who misuse Social Security benefits after someone dies.”
“The VA Office of Inspector General tirelessly pursues allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse affecting VA programs,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. “This conduct was particularly disturbing as it involved an individual who abused his position of trust.”
Javier Montano, 57, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds. In addition to the term of imprisonment, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey sentenced Montano to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $1,196,075.95 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to court documents, in August 2015, Montano, who was the branch manager for a local bank, received information about two accounts within the bank with large balances and no activity:
The first account (Account A) was held by a Las Vegas resident who was receiving SSA retirement benefits. The individual passed away in February 1997. The SSA was not notified about the individual’s death, and benefits continued to be paid into the account.
The second account (Account B) was held by a Las Vegas resident who was receiving both SSA retirement benefits and VA benefits. The individual passed away in June 2011. Neither the SSA nor the VA was notified about the individual’s death, and benefits continued to accumulate in the account.
Through a bank computer, Montano ordered debit cards for both accounts, using them to withdraw cash — which he either spent or deposited into his personal bank account — and to make purchases for his personal use and benefit. In addition, Montano ordered and wrote checks (for his personal use) for Account B. Montano also used his authority as a branch manager to authorize a $35,000 cashier’s check from Account B. The vast majority of the funds were withdrawn in cash or spent on personal expenses, including the purchase of a luxury car.
In total, between August 2015 and June 2020, Montano fraudulently obtained: (a) approximately $436,686.80 in SSA benefits to which he was not entitled; and (b) approximately $757,985.88 in VA benefits to which he was not entitled.
This case was a joint investigation by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, and Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Oliva prosecuted the case.