published on May 28, 2021 - 10:43 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

A Fresno woman is being indicted for fraud by the Department of Justice for hundreds of thousands of dollars of SBA loans filed in 2020.

Cecilia Aquino, 34, faces a six-count indictment on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She submitted unemployment insurance claims applications for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury and Disaster Loans using stolen identities, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of California.

Court documents show that from June to November 2020, Aquino submitted the unemployment benefit claims in at least seven states. At least four loan applications contained misrepresentations.

Attorneys claim that the individuals for whom Aquino filed applications last worked as dancers and owned interior-design businesses, and that because of the pandemic, they lost their jobs and business revenue. 

Aquino allegedly spent money on gambling, rent, shopping and other personal expenditures. The SBA and the U.S. suffered an actual loss of at least $220,000 and were subject to a potential loss of more than $350,000 because of the committed fraud.

The FBI, SBA Office of Inspector General and the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General took part in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Barton is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Aquino faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count of mail and wire fraud. Aquino also faces a two-year sentence consecutive to other counts and a fine of up to $250,000 for each aggregated identity theft count. 

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