PASADENA (CBSLA) — A Pasadena man, who allegedly used fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits to purchase a Maserati, was also said to have been in possession of a universal United States Postal Service key.
“This is a really big problem,” said Assistant United States Attorney Jason Pang.
Prosecutors said on October 1 they discovered stacks of cash, bags of drugs, a loaded ghost gun and 17 California EDD debit cards that were inside the blue Maserati SUV when Pasadena police pulled over 30-year-old Robert Sloan Mateer for making an illegal u-turn.
Pang said the Pasadena man later admitted that he used stolen identities to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance benefits.
According to prosecutors, Mateer had thousands of stolen identity profiles.
“He used those profiles to apply for unemployment cards in names other than his own and he had those cards mailed across to different specific locations in the area, collected those cards and then used those cards to withdraw cash from ATMs around Los Angeles,” said Pang.
Pang said Mateer withdrew approximately $200,000 from those ATMs and used it to buy his luxury ride.
“He said that the money contributed to his purchase of that Maserati,” Pang said.
Investigators also searched the Airbnb Mateer was renting and said they found EDD documents, atm withdrawal receipts and the USPS universal key.
“So based on that, we suspect that Mr. Mateer was involved in some mail theft, but as of now we’re still building out that investigation,” Pang said.
Pang said they’re also still trying to figure out exactly how many people were cheated out of their unemployment benefits.
“It’s our job to make sure that we protect the federal person to make sure that the money that Congress has allocated to unemployment benefits really goes to people who need it, not to people who are buying Maseratis. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will carefully and aggressively prosecute these types of fraud based cases,” Pang said.
Prosecutors say if the matter is convicted of all the charges, he faces a minimum of 17 years or a maximum life sentence in federal prison.
Mateer is currently in custody and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.