Previously-deported Pawtucket man pleads guilty to litany of charges after re-entering US illegally
PAWTUCKET — A previously-deported Dominican national pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence Wednesday to charges that he re-entered the country illegally, and then used the identities and Social Security numbers of others without their knowledge to fraudulently obtain health care and welfare benefits.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell Jr., Carlos José Portes-Ortiz, 38, of Pawtucket, pleaded guilty to health care fraud, welfare (SNAP) fraud, misuse of Social Security numbers, aggravated identity theft, and illegal reentry.
Portes-Ortiz was among more than 600 individuals in 58 districts charged last spring and summer by the Department of Justice and United States Attorney’s Offices for their participation in fraud schemes, particularly health care and welfare fraud schemes.
Portes-Ortiz, who uses at least five different aliases, was deported from the United States in February 2009, after having been sentenced some two years earlier to 37 months in federal prison for conspiracy to
import 100 grams or more of heroin and 500 grams or more of cocaine. Portes-Ortiz was arrested in June 2005 at Newark Liberty International Airport after arriving from the Dominican Republic.
Federal prosecutors said that in November 2015, Providence police responded to a traffic accident and encountered Portes-Ortiz, who presented officers with a Dominican driver’s license in the name of another person. He was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and driving after denial, suspension or revocation of a driver’s license.
In March 2017, Portes-Ortiz was arrested in Dedham, Mass., after attempting to purchase over $1,000 worth of iPhone and iPad equipment using a driver’s license depicting his photograph and a credit card both in the name of a female. At the time of his arrest, Portes-Ortiz was found to be in possession of a Rhode Island Neighborhood Health Plan card, a Rhode Island EBT card for SNAP benefits, a Rhode Island identification card, a Puerto Rican driver’s license and a bank debit card, some depicting his photograph but all in names other than his own. It was later determined through fingerprints that the person arrested was actually Portes-Ortiz.
An investigation led by local agents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General determined that Portes-Ortiz used multiple names and stolen personal identifying information to gain Rhode Island ID cards; Medicaid and health care benefits, including medical, pharmaceutical and dental services; EBT cards and SNAP benefits.
The investigation also determined that Portes-Ortiz was employed at a retail store while, at the same time, fraudulently obtaining federal program benefits and services using stolen identities and identifying information.
Portes-Ortiz, detained in federal custody since his arrest on June 27, is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10.