Former Las Vegas bank manager sentenced for stealing nearly $1.2M in benefits from social security and veterans affairs

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A former branch manager of a bank in Las Vegas was sentenced Monday to two years and six months in prison after pleading guilty to fraudulently obtaining nearly $1.2 million in benefits from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration Gail S. Ennis, and the VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal, announced the sentencing of 57-year-old Javier Montano on Monday.

“The Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs provide a lifeline to members of society who are eligible, and provide benefits to veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Our office and our agency partners are committed to safeguarding these programs and prosecuting those who would abuse these essential services.”

Montano pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government funds. In addition to going to prison, U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey sentenced Montano to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $1,196,075.95 in restitution to the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The VA Office of Inspector General tirelessly pursues allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse affecting VA programs,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. “This conduct was particularly disturbing as it involved an individual who abused his position of trust.”

According to court documents, in August 2015, Montano, who was the branch manager for a local bank, received information about two accounts within the bank with large balances and no activity. The account information has been broken down as followed:

  • The first account (Account A) was held by a Las Vegas resident who was receiving SSA retirement benefits. The individual passed away in February 1997. The SSA was not notified about the individual’s death, and benefits continued to be paid into the account.
  • The second account (Account B) was held by a Las Vegas resident who was receiving both SSA retirement benefits and VA benefits. The individual passed away in June 2011. Neither the SSA nor the VA was notified about the individual’s death, and benefits continued to accumulate in the account.

“We must hold those in positions of trust accountable when they abuse that trust and misuse their authority for personal gain,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “We will continue to work with SSA and other agencies to identify unreported deaths and aggressively pursue those who misuse Social Security benefits after someone dies.”

Through a bank computer, officials say Montano ordered debit cards for both accounts, using them to withdraw cash. Authorities say Montano either spent or deposited the money into his own personal bank account. 

They say he also ordered and wrote checks (for his personal use) for Account B. Montano then used his authority as a branch manager to authorize a $35,000 cashier’s check from Account B, the report said. 

The vast majority of the funds were withdrawn in cash or spent on personal expenses, including a luxury car Montano allegedly bought.

In total, between August 2015 and June 2020, Montano fraudulently obtained approximately $436,686.80 in SSA benefits and approximately $757,985.88 in VA benefits that were not his.

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