A Des Moines woman was recently convicted on 22 federal felony counts in the Southern District of Iowa. Forty-eight-year-old Julia Nguyen was convicted by a jury of attempted immigration fraud, theft of federal government funds, social security fraud, false use of a social security number belonging to another person, aggravated identity theft, making material false statements to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, health care fraud and mail fraud in connection with the Iowa food assistance program.
Information from the U.S. Attorney’s office says the two immigration fraud charges relate to events in 2007. Nguyen tricked a local doctor into completing false immigration documentation for two Vietnamese nationals who were seeking to become U.S. citizens, but had had difficulty passing the language and civics portion of the naturalization process. Although federal officials rejected the paperwork after it was
submitted, Nguyen nevertheless tried to convince federal authorities that the applicants were medically unable to pass the exams, and should be granted exemptions.
The theft of government funds and social security fraud convictions stem from Nguyen’s abuse of the Social Security program. Over several years, Nguyen fraudulently obtained over $59,000 of Social Security benefits for numerous persons who had left the country and were no longer eligible to receive program benefits. This undisclosed income made her ineligible for the $33,600 of Social Security payments she received from 2010 through 2013.
Nguyen was also convicted of using the name and social security number of a man who years earlier had returned to Vietnam to fraudulently obtain funds from the State of Iowa. Nguyen submitted claims to the state rental reimbursement program asserting he was renting an apartment in Des Moines, and received over $3,600. The jury also convicted Nguyen of making false statements to HUD in connection with receiving subsidized housing by concealing from the government her true income and assets. The health care fraud conviction related to a Medicaid-based program designed to keep elderly or physically disadvantaged people out of nursing homes, called consumer directed attendant care. After Nguyen’s doctor certified Nguyen was ineligible for the program, Nguyen altered the doctor’s form to make it appear she needed such care, and submitted it to the State.
Nguyen’s application was approved, and one of Nguyen’s daughters was paid by the State to provide such unnecessary care. The mail fraud conviction covered Nguyen’s abuse of the food assistance program, which is jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State of Iowa. After an elderly food assistance recipient left Iowa to return to his home country of Vietnam, Nguyen had his food assistance electronic benefits (EBT) card sent to her post office box, and used it for here own benefit for several years. Nguyen had replacement EBT cards and various notices sent by the State in the original recipient’s name to Nguyen’s post office box.
Trial evidence showed Nguyen using the original recipient’s EBT card to conduct a $199 transaction at a local Wal-Mart. The program was defrauded of over $10,000.
Nguyen’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 7, 2015.