Etna Man Found Guilty of Using Deceased Brother’s Identity for Decades

Aug 22, 2023

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maine

BANGOR – An Etna man was found guilty on Friday, August 18 of one count of identity theft, two counts of passport fraud, two counts of Social Security fraud and one count of mail fraud following a two-day trial before Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

According to court records, beginning in the mid-1960s, Napoleon Gonzalez, 86, took on the identity of his brother, Guillermo Gonzalez, who had died as an infant in 1939. Over the years, Gonzalez obtained multiple passports bearing his brother’s name, most recently in October 2017, a passport he used to travel to Canada in July 2018. In 1981, Gonzalez applied for a Social Security number in his deceased brother’s name and filed applications for Social Security retirement benefits in his own name in 1999 and in his brother’s name in 2001.

Gonzalez collected retirement benefits under both identities until March 2020, when investigators requested the suspension of benefits being paid to Guillermo Gonzalez pending investigation. Gonzalez mailed a letter to the Social Security Administration, signing the name Guillermo Gonzalez and the Social Security number assigned to that identity, asking for an explanation for the suspension. In the letter, he requested a prompt reply, claiming that due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, he was locked in his apartment, unable to drive and dependent on neighbors to obtain food and other items. Gonzalez also obtained Maine state identification cards under both his own identity and his brother’s. In recorded statements, Gonzalez claimed that he took on his deceased brother’s identity at the direction of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations and that he was legally allowed to use both identities.

Gonzalez faces up to five years in prison on the Social Security fraud charges, up to 10 years on the passport fraud charges, up to 15 years on the identity theft charge, and up to 20 years on the mail fraud charge. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release on all charges. He will be sentenced after the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles Division of Enforcement, Anti-Theft and Regulations investigated this case.

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