An Oregon man who stole the identity of a dead child more than three decades ago was sentenced in federal court this week for working and receiving government benefits under that kid’s name.
Robert Lizaragga, 70, obtained the child’s Social Security number in 1991 and assumed the identity as his own while also using his real name, a scheme he designed to collect twice as much money in benefits, authorities said.
He eventually applied for retirement benefits for both identities and fraudulently pocketed all that cash for years, according to prosecutors. He also collected checks from the federal government’s pandemic stimulus program under both names, authorities said.
Lizaragga, who lives in the Portland suburb of Gresham, was sentenced Monday to two years of probation after apologizing and pleading guilty to theft of government funds and making a false statement.
He also returned more than $12,000 in retirement benefits that he illegally collected between 2017 and 2020 and paid $1,200 to the Internal Revenue Service for getting a stimulus check under the dead child’s name, according to The Oregonian.
“I’ve done everything I can to get things right,” he reportedly told a U.S. district judge during his sentencing. “I apologize to the courts and to everybody I affected.” It was unclear if Lizaragga ever met the child.