Three defendants plead guilty to unemployment fraud in Santa Barbara court

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A man and woman from San Diego stole customers’ identities from businesses across the United States, including a Santa Barbara property management firm, and used them to file fraudulent unemployment claims, which cost California taxpayers more than $2 million. 

Gordon Alan Welterlen, 37, and Nicole Michelle Milan, 31, along with Rosa Maria Bradley, 40, of Santa Barbara pleaded guilty on Friday to felony charges related to the fraud, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced. Another three alleged co-conspirators are also facing charges in the Santa Barbara County court case.

Welterlen illegally accessed a network belonging to Santa Barbara-based Wolfe & Associates Property Management on multiple occasions. He also admitted he stole the identities of more than 9,000 people whose information had been stored on Wolfe & Associates’ network, according to the district attorney’s office.

Milan and Welterlen admitted they conspired with their co-defendants to use the stolen identities to file fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits with the California Employment Development Department. Along with their co-defendants, they filed more than 300 fraudulent claims, resulting in the loss of more than $2 million to California taxpayers. 

Additionally, Welterlen and Milan used stolen identities to purchase and lease cars, open bank accounts and rent apartments, which resulted in tax and other liabilities for the victims. 

Bradley admitted to conspiring with her co-defendants to file fraudulent claims for benefits and to receiving money from the fraudulently filed claims. 

Welterlen pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of unemployment insurance benefit fraud, one felony count of conspiracy to commit multiple-identity thefts and one count of unauthorized access and taking data from a computer system. Welterlen also admitted to an enhancement for taking in excess of $500,000. He is facing an18 year prison sentence.

Milan pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of unemployment insurance benefit fraud and one felony count of conspiracy to commit multiple identity thefts, as well as an enhancement for taking in excess of $500,000. Milan is facing a 15 year prison sentence.

Bradley pleaded guilty to one felony count of unemployment insurance benefit fraud and one felony count of conspiracy to commit multiple identity thefts in exchange for two years probation.

Sentencing for Welterlen, Milan and Bradley is scheduled for March 19 in Santa Barbara Superior Court. 

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