Albuquerque man sentenced to over 5 years in prison for fraudulent car loan schemes exceeding $1.5 million | USAO-NM

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Alexander MM Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced today that Rick Benavidez, 47, of Albuquerque, has been sentenced in federal court to five years and three months jail time for directing and arranging two car loan fraud schemes involving an expected total loss of more than $1.5 million.

Benavidez pleaded guilty April 29 to two counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of fraudulent statements, statements or other documents. In his plea agreement, Benavidez admitted to conspiring with his co-defendant, Damian Maron, 41, of Albuquerque, to carry out a loan fraud scheme against federally insured credit unions in the county of Bernalillo. Benavidez and Maron convinced lower level members of the conspiracy to apply for loans totaling $359,662.97. Benavidez gave loan seekers fake pay stubs that exaggerated their income to improve the likelihood of loan approval. Benavidez, Maron and their co-conspirators did not actually use loan proceeds to purchase vehicles. Instead, they arranged for the lenders to disburse the loan funds to a fictitious car dealership. The co-conspirators then divided the proceeds of the fraud and used the money for their personal benefit.

Benavidez also admitted to participating in a separate auto loan fraud scheme involving an expected loss of $1,154,493.42, of which $999,993.42 was actually disbursed by financial institutions. Benavidez has agreed to return the victims of his crimes in an amount to be determined in a separate hearing. Benavidez must complete a five-year period of supervised release after his imprisonment.

In his plea agreement, Benavidez also admitted to submitting a false document to the Internal Revenue Service while his auto loan fraud case was pending. This forged document purported to name U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson as Benavidez’s legal trustee. Benavidez knew this designation was false when he submitted the document.

Maron previously pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He is due to be sentenced on September 2.

The local FBI office in Albuquerque and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case with assistance from the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the New York Attorney General’s Office. -Mexico.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Taylor F. Hartstein and Sean J. Sullivan are prosecuting the case.

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