MIAMI – A South Florida woman has been ordered to pay more than
$600,000 in restitution for filing fraudulent claims in connection
with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of
Mexico, a district judge recently ruled.
U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez ordered
on Nov. 30, 2016, that 51-year-old Caridad Rioseco Alejandrez, of Key
West, was to pay $607,566 after pleading guilty to one count of mail
fraud by filing false claims on behalf of others in April 2010. After
ordering Alejandrez to serve 48 months at a Miami federal detention
center, Martinez also gave her three years of supervised probation
once she is released.
According to the Department of Justice, the compensation amount
reflected the actual losses suffered by the Gulf Coast Claims
Facility trust fund set up by BP as a result of false claims handled
by Alejandrez for her family members and for hundreds of Key
In a report in the Miami
Herald, Alejandrez’s father, Raul Rioseco, 74, a retired
fisherman of Stock Island, had previously admitted to the same crime.
He was ordered to make restitution payments to the Deepwater Horizon
Fund amounting to $144,606.57. He was sentenced to one year and one
day in prison last April, which he is serving at a federal halfway
house in Miami. Upon his release, he will also serve a three-year
term of supervised probation.
Even though the daughter and father are reported to have only
received $35,900 and $55,000, respectively, from the GCCF, the amount
determined represented the money he unlawfully received from the
GCCF. This figure was also in addition to amounts received by other
individuals based on fraudulent documents Raul Rioseco provided to
support fake claims.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Florida in the
Herald report, Alejandrez and Rioseco assisted hundreds of Key
West-area residents in filing false claims in a bid to cheat the fund
of $1.5 million.
To defraud the GCCF, which is a $20 billion trust fund, the scheme
was carried out through mailings and the Internet, which required
providing forms and documentation, including employment-verification
letters, and tax-return documents. Alejandrez and Rioseco claimed
that they had been adversely affected by the oil spill and had lost
income in the months following the incident. None of the claims they
were claiming was true.
As someone who had served as a “facilitator” for area
residents by preparing tax returns, working on immigration paperwork
and handling other accounting services, Alejandrez filed fraudulent
paperwork on behalf of others purporting they had suffered as a
result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. None of these claims was
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf
of Mexico exploded and sank, which resulted in the subsequent
oil-spill disaster and the killing of 11 workers. When the well was
eventually capped on July 14, 2010, around 3.19 million barrels of
oil had leaked into the Gulf, affecting the lives and wildlife in