ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Rick Benavidez, 47, pled guilty in federal court in April to two counts of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of submitting fraudulent returns, statements, and other documents to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to court records, in 2013, Benavidez and Damian Maron along with another man conspired to submit false documentation, including altered pay stubs, to two credit unions to receive car loans. The pay stubs, which were provided to the applicant by Benavidez, stated that the applicant’s annual income was $85,000 when in fact it was only about $8,000 in 2013.
The loan applications at both credit unions used the title for the same car, a 2007 Mercedes S Class, which was not for sale and which none of them planned to buy. The funds were then dispersed to Automotive Express, Inc., a fictitious car dealership. The men split the money and the loan went into default.
Benavidez admitted in his plea that the loans under the false idea of buying the Mercedes were part of a larger scheme using multiple straw applications to obtain similar loans which paid out a total of more than $359,000.
Benavidez also acknowledged another loan scheme allegedly involving Willie Lee Edwards, who is currently wanted by the FBI. The two of them applied for more than $1,100,000 in loans of which nearly $1,000,000 was paid out.
After being charged with conspiracy and bank fraud, Benavidez submitted a false document to the IRS purporting to designate the assigned U.S. District Court judge as his fiduciary. Prosecutors say the judge never agreed to that and had never been Benavidez’s legal fiduciary.
By the terms of his plea, Benavidez faces up to more than 5 years in prison. Maron pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud, he faces up to 30 years in prison.