An 83-year-old Etna man who has been accused of fraudulently receiving Social Security payments in his dead brother’s name for 19 years, as well as applying for a passport in his name, appeared remotely before a federal judge in Bangor on Tuesday.
Napoleon Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to two counts each of Social Security fraud and passport fraud, and one count each of identity theft and mail fraud.
Gonzalez, who appears to be one of the oldest defendants prosecuted in Maine by the U.S. Attorney’s office, was indicted on July 14 by a federal grand jury in Bangor.
Gonzalez is accused of using his brother Guillermo Gonzalez’s Social Security number to receive benefits after his brother died, according to the indictment. He allegedly received benefits under both his own name and his brother’s name between February 2001 and February 2020.
In 2017, Gonzalez obtained a passport in his brother’s name and used it to travel the following year, the indictment said. He was charged with mail fraud because he allegedly signed and mailed a letter in April 2020 to the Social Security office pretending to be his brother to ask why his benefits had been suspended.
Information about when and where Guillermo Gonzalez died are not included in court documents.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison released Gonzalez on $2,500 unsecured bail and ordered that he be supervised by U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services in Bangor.
If convicted, Gonzalez faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the most serious charge of mail fraud. He could also face up to 15 years in prison on the identity theft count, up to 10 years in prison on the passport fraud counts and up to five years in prison on the SSI fraud counts.
In addition to prison time, Gonzalez could be ordered to pay restitution and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.