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United States v. Roibal-Bradley

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

December 6, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JUANITA ROIBAL-BRADLEY, Defendant.

          Damon P. Martinez United States Attorney Holland S. Kastrin Assistant United States Attorney United States Attorney's Office Albuquerque, New Mexico Attorneys for the Plaintiff United States of America.

          Jason Bowles Bowles Law Firm Albuquerque, New Mexico and Barrett (Barry) George Porter Burgess and Porter Law, LLC Albuquerque, New Mexico Attorneys for the Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Juanita Roibal-Bradley's Sealed Sentencing Memorandum at 1, filed August 24, 2016 (Doc. 44)(“PSR Objections”). The Court held a sentencing hearing on September 12, 2016, and restitution hearings on December 2, 2016, and December 5, 2016. The primary issues are whether the Court should, pursuant to the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3663A (“MVRA”), order Roibal-Bradley to pay restitution: (i) to Joseph K. Swezey Jr. in the amount of $90, 772.44, for fees J. Swezey paid to RFM Research, LLC, and Jackson Kelly, PLLC, to assist in recovering his inheritance; and (ii) to Tina R. Swezey in the amount of $20, 135.51, for fees T. Swezey paid to RFM Research to assist in recovering portions of her inheritance. The Court overrules Roibal-Bradley's objections and imposes the recommended restitution awards, because Roibal-Bradley's conduct actually caused the Swezeys to retain the services of RFM Research and Jackson Kelly, and because a preponderance of the evidence supports the award amounts.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In a Plea Agreement, filed February 2, 2016 (Doc. 29)(“Plea Agreement”), Roibal-Bradley admitted the following facts. Regarding Count I of the Indictment, filed September 10, 2015 (Doc. 1)(“Indictment”), which charges Roibal-Bradley with fraudulently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits to which she was not entitled, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(4)(1), see Indictment ¶¶ 1-2, at 1-2, Roibal-Bradley admitted:

Between on or about September 18, 2007, and continuing through on or about March 23, 2011, in the District of New Mexico and elsewhere, I had knowledge of an event affecting my initial and continuing right to any payment of Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, and I knowingly failed to disclose this event to the Social Security Administration, with the intent to fraudulently secure payment in a greater amount than was due and when no payment was authorized. . . .
On or about September 18, 2007, I submitted an application to the Social Security Administration for Disability Insurance Payments. As part of the application process, I claimed that my disability prevented me from engaging in any work. Based on my representations that I was not capable of gainful employment, on March 25, 2008, the Social Security Administration began paying me disability benefits, and continued to pay me such benefits until March 23, 2001. During the entire time I was receiving Social Security Disability Insurance Payments, I was working fulltime as a mediator or supervising attorney at the New Mexico Worker's Compensation Administration and I did conceal and fail to disclose to the Social Security Administration that I was capable of such full-time, gainful employment.
As a result of my failure to disclose to the Social Security Administration my ability to engage in full-time work, I fraudulently received Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits to which I was not entitled, in an amount in excess of $40, 000.

         Plea Agreement ¶¶ 9.a-9.c, at 4-5 (paragraph numbering omitted). Regarding Counts II through XIII of the Indictment, which charge Roibal-Bradley with devising and executing a wire fraud scheme and artifice to defraud the Estate of Joseph King Swezey Sr. of more than $250, 000.00, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, see Indictment ¶¶ 1-7, at 2-4, Roibal-Bradley admitted:

Between or about March 19, 2012, and on or about June 30, 2013, in the District of New Mexico and elsewhere, I knowingly and with intent to defraud devised and executed a scheme and artifice to defraud individuals and the Estate of J.S., and to obtain money from individuals and the Estate of J.S. by false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and, for the purpose of executing my scheme and artifice, caused writings and signals to be transmitted in interstate commerce via wire. . . .
On March 19, 2012, J.S. passed away. One of J.S.'s daughters was named administrator of his estate. In addition to the administrator, J.S. was survived by another daughter and a son. J.S.'s estate was worth at least $850, 000 and was to be split equally among his three children. Instead, I devised and executed a wire fraud scheme and artifice wherein I defrauded the Estate of J.S. of an amount in excess of $250, 000.
The administrator knew that I had been a licensed attorney in New Mexico. The administrator did not know that I was not permitted to practice law, having been suspended from the practice of law by the New Mexico Supreme Court, and specifically ordered to “not engage in the private practice of law nor accept any fees for legal services whatsoever.”
I did not tell the administrator that I was not allowed to be a lawyer and I held myself out as an attorney to the administrator. I prepared an attorney engagement agreement on the letterhead I used when I was authorized to practice law, “Juanita Roibal Law Offices, ” and I had the administrator sign that agreement. Under the terms of that agreement, I was to provide legal services to the Estate of J.S., including locating and distributing the estate's assets.
I did participate in locating the assets of the Estate of J.S. The administrator received the assets her ...

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