TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Seffner man pleaded guilty to stealing his dead brother’s identity in order to steal federal benefits Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The DOJ said Raul Gonzalez, 63, applied for a U.S. passport on Jan. 31, 2019, under the name Miguel Angel Gonzalez, his twin brother who died days after being born from dehydration and gastroenteritis.
To get the passport, Raul Gonzalez presented a driver’s license and baptismal certificate under his brother’s name. However, the U.S. Department of State became suspicious of the situation and assigned investigators to look into a potential case of fraud.
“Further investigation revealed that this same ‘Miguel Gonzalez,’ with the same date of birth and other similar identifiers, had applied over different points in time for Social Security, SNAP, and Medicaid/Medicare benefits,” the DOJ said. “This purported ‘Miguel Gonzalez’ then obtained over $145,000 from those various federal benefits programs using that false identity.”
Raul Gonzalez admitted to pretending to be his brother and agreed to pay back the agencies for the stolen benefits.
He now faces a mandatory sentence of two years for one count of aggravated identity theft.