A Camarillo man has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for running a massive scheme defrauding the federal government out of $5 million in unemployment benefits for employees who never existed at businesses that were made up, according to court documents.
Jack Benjamin Hessiani, 40, of Camarillo, was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in August 2018 to one count of mail fraud.
The Department of Justice claims Hessiani, also known as, “Jack Herrera,” created at least 43 fake companies based in Ventura County, and then created files and documentation for non-existent employees showing made-up earnings. The identities that were used for the scheme were sometimes poor students who received a portion of the benefits, according to court papers.
Hessiani and his alleged accomplices would then submit claims for unemployment insurance benefits for laid-off “employees” to the Employment Development Department, which is the state agency that handles federal unemployment insurance claims, according to the DOJ.
After the normal six month unemployment payout period, Hessiani would further extend the benefits by filing and stating the laid-off “employees” were still unemployed, according to court documents. The extended benefits were funded by the United States Treasury.
Three of Hessiani’s brothers have pleaded guilty in this case and are awaiting sentencing: 30-year-old James Manuel Herrera, of Camarillo; 27-year-old Eduardo Josue Garcia, of Camarillo; and 29-year-old Daniel Ayala-Mora, formerly of Camarillo.
The investigation was conducted by multiple agencies including the United States Secret Service.