COVID-19 Fraudster Sentenced to 79 Months After Discovery of Evidence in Yonkers Hotel

Yohauris Rodriguez Hernandez of the Dominican Republic has been sentenced to 79 months in federal prison after authorities discovered evidence of a fraudulent scheme targeting COVID-19 relief funds within a Yonkers hotel.

The 42-year-old Hernandez’s involvement in the scheme spanned from February 2020 to December 2020. Both she and her co-conspirator, Henry Fermin, exploited vulnerabilities in state unemployment compensation programs. The duo, alongside accomplices, submitted hundreds of bogus benefit applications using stolen identities, primarily within New York and other states.

Law enforcement first became aware of the scheme when Hernandez and Fermin hastily fled a Yonkers hotel in December 2020. There, they left behind a trove of incriminating evidence, including 747 pieces of mail from the NY Department of Labor. These items contained prepaid debit cards linked to approximately 568 unemployment insurance benefit accounts. The magnitude of the fraud amounted to over $16.1 million in unauthorized benefit payments, with approximately $3.2 million disbursed.

Authorities arrested Hernandez on January 19, 2022 in Goshen, NY. She then pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, theft of government funds, and aggravated identity theft.

U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern accepted Hernandez’s plea and handed down her sentence on January 30, 2024. The court issued a penalty of 79 months in federal prison. In addition to the prison term, Hernandez has been ordered to pay restitution totaling $3,294,368.50 and will serve three years of supervised release following her incarceration.

Commenting on the case, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams emphasized the commitment of law enforcement to prosecute individuals involved in pandemic relief fraud.

Yohauris Rodriguez Hernandez participated in a scheme that systematically targeted Government funds established as a safety net for millions of people across the United States struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s sentence demonstrates that this Office and our law enforcement partners continue to work tirelessly to prosecute those who sought to commit pandemic relief fraud

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