Albuquerque man pleads guilty to bank fraud and falsifying documents

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Rick Benavidez, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court in April to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of submitting fraudulent statements, statements and other documents to the Internal Revenue Service.

According to court records, in 2013 Benavidez and Damian Maron and another man conspired to submit false documents, including altered pay stubs, to two credit unions to receive auto loans. The pay stubs, which were provided to the plaintiff by Benavidez, listed the plaintiff’s annual income as $85,000 when in fact it was only about $8,000 in 2013.

Loan applications from both credit unions used the title of the same car, a 2007 Mercedes S-Class, which was not for sale and neither of them was considering buying. The funds were then distributed to Automotive Express, Inc., a fictitious car dealership. The men divided the money and the loan became unpaid.

Benavidez admitted in his plea that the loans under the misconception of buying the Mercedes were part of a larger scheme using multiple straw apps to get similar loans that paid a total of more than $359,000.

Benavidez also acknowledged another loan scheme allegedly involving Willie Lee Edwards, who is currently wanted by the FBI. The two have applied for more than $1,100,000 in loans of which almost $1,000,000 has been repaid.

After being charged with conspiracy and bank fraud, Benavidez submitted a false document to the IRS claiming to name the designated U.S. District Court judge as his trustee. Prosecutors say the judge never agreed to that and was never Benavidez’s legal trustee.

Under the terms of his plea, Benavidez faces up to more than 5 years in prison. Maron pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

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