A Corona man who fraudulently obtained over $50,000 in federal relief by falsely claiming to be a homeowner who lost his job during the Great Recession, leaving him unable to meet his mortgage obligations, could receive up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced later this year.
Eliseo Delgado Jr. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Riverside on Monday to making a false claim on federal documents in order to receive money.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Delgado is believed to be the first person prosecuted specifically for defrauding the mortgage assistance component of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, started under the Bush administration and continued under the Obama administration in response to the 2008-09 economic downturn.
Judge Jesus Bernal scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 28. Delgado is free on bond.
According to court documents, in November 2014, the defendant submitted an application to TARP’s Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, declaring, “I lost my job. I fell behind on my mortgage payments in (January) 2014, earlier this year due to lack of income.”
The application was processed by the California Housing Finance Authority as part of “Keep Your Home California,” according to prosecutors.
The program, using revenue from the “Hardest Hit Fund” established by Congress in 2010, disbursed money to low- and moderate-income individuals considered to have been significantly impacted by the economic downturn.
After Bernal was approved for financial aid, he received mortgage assistance checks from the government over an 18-month period, raking in a total $52,373, prosecutors said.
However, a red flag audit eventually revealed that Delgado was never unemployed, and in fact operated several businesses that he started, generating income to remain self-sufficient during the entire time he received bailout money, according to the government.
The U.S. Treasury Department and the Office of the Inspector General for TARP handled the investigation.
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