Three plead guilty to unemployment fraud
SANTA BARBARA — A Santa Barbara woman and two others have pleaded guilty to multiple counts stemming from a felony complaint filed last August in connection with identity and unemployment benefit fraud.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Friday that Rosa Maria Bradley, 40 of Santa Barbara, Godron Alan Welterlen, 37, and Nicole Michelle Milan, 31, both of San Diego, had pleaded guilty. Three other alleged co-conspirators were also named in the complaint.
Ms. Bradley pleaded guilty to one charge of felony unemployment insurance benefit fraud and one felony count of conspiracy to commit multiple-identity theft. She will be given probation for two years, Ms. Dudley said.
Mr. Welterlen pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of unemployment insurance benefit fraud, one felony count of conspiracy to commit multiple-identity theft and one count of unauthorized access and taking data from a computer system. He also admitted to a special allegation of taking more than $500,000. He will be sentenced to 18 years in state prison, Ms. Dudley said.
Ms. Milan also pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of unemployment insurance benefit fraud and one felony count of conspiracy to commit multiple-identity theft. She also admitted to a special allegation of taking more than $500,000. She will be sentenced to 15 years in state prison.
As part of the plea agreement, Mr. Welterlen admitted that he illegally accessed computer networks belonging to businesses across the county, including a computer network belonging to Wolf & Associates Property Management of Santa Barbara on multiple occasions. He also admitted that he stole the identities of more than 9,000 people that had been stored on Wolf & Associates’ network. Ms. Milan and Mr. Welterlen admitted that they conspired with their co-defendants to use the stolen identities to file fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits with the California Employment Development Department. They acknowledged that they, and their co-defendants, filed over 300 such fraudulent claims, which resulted in a loss in excess of $2 million to California taxpayers. Ms. Bradley admitted to conspiring with her co-defendants to file fraudulent claims for benefits and to receiving money from the fraudulently filed claims.
In addition to filing fraudulent unemployment claims, Mr. Welterlen and Ms. Milan admitted using the stolen identities to purchase and lease cars, open multiple bank accounts, and rent apartments, which resulted in tax and other liability to their victims, Ms. Dudley said.
The three will be sentenced on March 19 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.
“Last year there were over 100,000 reports of identity theft in California,” Ms. Dudley said in a statement. “Identity theft can cause significant and long lasting financial and emotional harm to a victim. It often takes years for the victim (to) fully recover.”
Anyone who believes they were a victim in this case may contact the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Mitchell White
Man arrested on firearm charge
LOMPOC — A man was arrested on a firearm charge Thursday night in Lompoc, police said.
Police were dispatched to the alley near the 200 block of North K and L streets for a report of a subject with a firearm. Officers located 19-year-old Reynaldo Robles Hernandez inside of a parked vehicle in the area, and he was found to have a loaded firearm, according to a Lompoc Police Department news release.
He was arrested and booked into the Lompoc jail on suspicion of possessing a loaded firearm in public.
— Mitchell White
Closures planned for Highway 101 project
CARPINTERIA — Several lane closures are planned this week as work continues on the Linden and Casitas Pass Highway 101 widening project in Carpinteria.
From 9 p.m. tonight to 5 a.m. Monday, one northbound lane will be closed from Linden Avenue to Sheffield Drive. Similar intermittent overnight closures are planned Monday through Thursday, according to Caltrans officials.
From 10 p.m. tonight to 7 a.m. Monday, one southbound lane will be closed from Sheffield Drive to Linden Avenue. Similar overnight closures are planned Monday through Thursday.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday, the offramp at Casitas Pass Road will be closed as needed.
The southbound onramp at Sheffield Drive will be closed for the duration of the project, with an anticipated reopening date set for 2023. The offramp at Sheffield Drive will be closed for up to 16 months and could reopen by the end of 2021.
The onramp and offramp at Reynolds Avenue will be closed up to 16 weeks, but could reopen by Monday, weather permitting.. The offramp at Carpinteria Avenue will be closed for up to seven weeks as early as Feb. 1, and the offramp at Linden Avenue will be closed for five weeks as early as Feb. 8.
Flaggers will be in place to direct traffic at the Evans Avenue undercrossing during daytime peak periods. Temporary stop signs will be installed at the intersection of Sheffield Drive and North Jameson Lane for the duration of construction of the Summerland segment. To view detour maps, visit www.sbroads.com and select the project segment.
Crews will install underground storm drains and visual deterrents to encourage nesting outside of the construction area.
Crews will also continue building footings, installing rebar and pouring concrete for columns, side supports and retaining walls for the new bridges in the median at the Sheffield Drive interchange.
Work is also ongoing for the Evans Avenue undercrossing. This includes excavation and installation of underground supports between the 101 bridges for the new upcoming bridge. Daytime noise is expected over the next two weeks.
Over the next few weeks, in compliance with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife requirements related to bird nesting, crews will undertake pre-construction work to clear trees and vegetation so that construction can begin on the Padaro segment of the project. The project will add a new, third freeway lane in each direction and new bridges over Toro and Arroyo Parida creeks.
At the South Padaro Lane Undercrossing, the bridge and on- and offramps will be replaced. At the North Padaro Lane Interchange, new on and offramp improvements will be built. There will also be three new sound walls built.
The majority of work will occur in the median and near the South Padaro/Santa Claus Lane on- and offramps.
Crews will finish up curb and gutter installation for the new lanes and ramps near Reynolds Avenue. Crews will also work on intersection and crosswalk improvements at Carpinteria and Reynolds avenues. Ramps will be open Monday, weather depending.
On the south side of the 101 between Carpinteria and Santa Ynez avenues, crews will excavate and install underground supports for new wall sections. Work will then progress to building the wall footings and rebar installation.
Crews will continue to pave the southbound area between the freeway lanes and ramps near Bailard Avenue. On Via Real near the mobile home parks, crews will repave roadway areas and remove an existing bump in the roadway. Flaggers will direct traffic as needed.
In addition, a landscaping contractor is working on new irrigation lines and is planting along southbound 101 between Linden Avenue and Casitas Pass Road.
— Mitchell White