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Former Las Vegas bank manager sentenced after stealing $1.2M in benefits after customers died

Money used to buy luxury car and other things
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Posted at 7:20 AM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 11:40:25-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 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.

PREVIOUS STORY: Las Vegas man pleads guilty to fraudulently obtaining nearly $1.2M in Social Security benefits

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 A. 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as a branch manager to authorize a $35,000 cashier’s check from Account B. The vast majority of the funds were withdrawn in cash or spent on personal expenses, including the purchase of a luxury car.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.