Tampa Woman Accused Of Fraudulently Obtaining Official Documents And Government Benefits
Most cases of identity theft do not involve a defendant literally pretending to be someone else. A case where John pastes his photo onto Sam’s driver’s license, introduces himself to people as Sam, wears a “Sam” nametag at work, and receives paychecks issued to Sam is the kind of identity theft that occurs in the movies (including some movies, like Colour Me Kubrick, which are based on true events), but this model represents only a small portion of the identity theft cases that go through the courts. This month, though, a Tampa woman pleaded guilty to identity theft and other financial crimes after she lived under another person’s identity in all aspects of life for more than ten years. If you are facing charges for identity theft or a related offense, contact a Tampa white collar crime lawyer.
Defendant Allegedly Lived Under a False Identity for More Than a Decade
Nilda Medina-Veguilla was born in Puerto Rico, which means that she has been a U.S. citizen her whole life and has always been eligible to apply for a U.S. passport. In 2008, when Medina-Veguilla was in her early 20s, a warrant was issued for her arrest for her alleged role in a counterfeiting operation that took place three years earlier. At that time, Medina-Veguilla moved to Florida, where she assumed the identity of a childhood acquaintance she knew from Puerto Rico, identified in the court documents as N.T.D. Over the next decade, Medina-Veguilla got married and then divorced and applied for and received SNAP benefits, which are popularly known as food stamps. She also filed tax returns every year and was arrested at least once. During this time, the family court, criminal court, IRS, and Department of Agriculture (which administers the SNAP program) never questioned whether Medina-Veguilla was really N.T.D.
The trouble began in February 2021, when Medina-Veguilla applied for a passport. Authorities determined that the real N.T.D. already had a valid passport, and this was their first clue that the applicant was not who she claimed to be. In September 2023, Medina-Veguilla, 38, pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, making false claims on a U.S. passport application, and theft of government property. As part of the plea deal, she must pay $43,000 in restitution, in order to repay the government for the SNAP benefits that she obtained through fraud. Her charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison, but she could face a sentence of up to ten years. Defendants who plead guilty tend to receive lighter sentences than those convicted at trial; this is one of the reasons that the vast majority of defendants plead guilty.
Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven
You have the right to plead not guilty even if a paper trail seems to indicate your guilt. A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of identity theft, making false statements on official documents, or other types of fraud. Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.