Owings Mills man pleads guilty to over $ 1 million in fraud
Friday March 26, 2021
Tyler Waldman, WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5
A man from Owings Mills pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, as part of more than $ 1.1 million in frauds carried out between 2013 and 2020, have federal prosecutors announced Friday.
According to his plea agreement, from 2013 to July 16, 2020, Robert Lee Snowden conspired to defraud the Maryland Department of Human Services and the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by using stolen credentials to obtain benefits. He then sold the cash benefits at about half the value of the benefits on each card.
Prior to his 2011 layoff from a temporary job at a healthcare company, the 45-year-old stole lists of personal information from healthcare professionals. In 2013, he started using the stolen information to claim benefits and created fraudulent documents to support claims. He used the acquaintance addresses of nearby vacant homes for sending out SNAP cards. He or someone acting in his direction would then pick up the cards at those addresses.
After a buyer used a SNAP card, they would send the card back to Snowden, who would sell each card again when the following month’s benefits loaded. He and his girlfriend, Laura Bertrand, also used the cards to do grocery shopping for themselves.
In total, over 220 victim identities were used to apply for SNAP benefits and over $ 1 million in SNAP benefits were issued and redeemed through the program. Snowden also used the identity of the victims to open utility accounts at his home.
Bertrand, who was in a relationship with Snowden from 2015 to 2019, sometimes posed as victims during phone calls with state officials and provided false information to secure SNAP approvals.
Snowden admitted to defrauding banks and a credit union as well by providing false employment information on six auto loan applications. He was unemployed at all relevant times and Snowden knew that Bertrand was making a lot less than they claimed on the forms. Between March 2017 and February 2020, they obtained $ 92,668.58 for four auto loans. Two loan requests were refused.
Last year, Snowden attempted to secure an economic disaster loan from the Small Business Administration using the identity of at least one of the SNAP victims. He created a fictitious business entity on behalf of the victim and obtained fraudulent credentials, but was unable to secure the loan until authorities raided his home on July 16, 2020.
He faces up to two to 22 years in prison and will have to pay compensation at least equal to the SNAP fraud. US District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has set the sentence for June 3.
Bertrand, 39, has previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She will also be ordered to pay at least $ 5,000 in compensation.
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