Ex-NYC Employee Pleads Guilty in Public Benefits Fraud Scheme
Eliana Bauta, 35, falsified documents, stole identities and
filed fraudulent tax returns as part of a scheme to issue
emergency benefits to relatives and acquaintances who
had no emergency
The NYC employee participated in two separate schemes that
siphoned more than $300,000 from city coffers, earmarked for
the city’s most needy
Two other suspects, Geraldine Perez, 60, and Eric Gonzales, 26,
were accused of depositing checks from Bauta and sharing the
money with Bauta and other conspirators
Bauta spent some of her loot hiring a supernatural specialist who
cast a spell on her ex-boyfriend
A former employee of New York City’s Human Resource Administration, the nation’s largest social services agency, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court Thursday for her involvement in a scheme to steal over $300,000 in funds meant for the city’s most needy.
Prosecutors said Bauta, 35, falsified documents, stole identities and filed fraudulent tax returns as part of a scheme to issue emergency benefits to relatives and acquaintances who had no emergency.
Bauta, a jobs specialist with the New York City welfare department chanelled more than $300,000 in public assistance funds to family and friends, including a supernatural specialist who put a spell on her ex-boyfriend., authorities said Thursday.
Eliana Bauta and two other defendants were accused in November 2018 of diverting emergency benefits funds to family members and acquaintances for bogus reasons, for instance a natural disaster that never actually occurred. Funds went to pay someone for putting a hex on Bauta’s former boyfriend, prosecutors claimed.
Federal authorities also claimed to have redirected emergency benefit checks issued for actual HRA clients. She then shared the checks with her co-defendants and others, who deposited them into their own accounts.
In one instance, officials said, Bauta replaced the name of a victim on a police report with a family member’s name, and processed the doctored report so that the relative could receive the issued benefits.
Also arrested were two other suspects, Geraldine Perez, 60, and Eric Gonzales, 26, who were accused of depositing checks from Bauta and sharing the money with Bauta and others.
All of the defendants are from the Bronx.
In both instances, according to prosecutors, those who were in on the schemes shared the proceeds with Bauta.
On one occasion she was said to have submitted a request for relief to be issued to an individual who was affected by a disaster — except that the disaster never actually occurred.
In fact, the money went towards reimbursing someone for putting a hex on her ex-lover.
Bauta faces up to 10 years in prison for the federal program theft count and up to 20 years for the wire fraud conspiracy count. She is scheduled to be sentenced in July.
‘HRA employees like Eliana Bauta are trusted to use their positions to help people in need.
Instead, as she has now admitted, Bauta egregiously abused that trust, working with her co-conspirators to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for New York’s needy,’ Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York said in a statement.
“As the guilty pleas in this case indicate, we remain vigilant in seeking out and prosecuting abuses of trust by City employees and remain committed to ensuring that federal and local funds go to their intended recipients.”
Miedel & Mysliwiec name attorney Aaron Mysliwiec represented Bauta. He declined to comment on his client’s plea.
Bauta pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni, who handled previous pleas with the two co-defendants, Geraldine Perez and Eric Gonzalez, in February. On top of Bauta’s action, prosecutors claimed Perez directed $91,000 worth of Treasury checks into the accounts of the same friends and acquaintances. She then split the proceeds with a tax preparer who helped with the scheme, according to prosecutors.