While awaiting trial for a fatal shooting depicted in a tattoo on his chest, detectives say a Rivera 13 gang member fraudulently obtained $30,000 in unemployment checks, with help from his family and lovers, from October 2008 to March 2010.
The money benefited not only convicted killer Anthony Garcia, 25, but also several gang members in county jail, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives.
Garcia’s father, alleged gang member Juan Leonard Garcia, 47, of Pico Rivera, and Garcia’s girlfriends, Cynthia Limas, 25, of Menifee and Sandra Jaimez, 45, of Downey, are now facing charges related to the scheme.
Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Mike Parker said the three were arrested Thursday and will be arraigned Monday in Whittier Superior Court.
Parker said Juan Garcia, Limas and Jaimez helped Anthony Garcia by filling out unemployment paperwork, cashing about $20,000 of the checks and depositing money in the younger Garcia’s jail inmate account, as well as the accounts of his fellow gang members.
“The three conspirators helped cash $20,000 and they knew where it was going … The co-conspirators assisted with the paperwork to get it (unemployment checks), cash it and keep getting it,” Parker said.
Anthony Garcia is currently in prison serving a 65-years-to-life sentence for the Jan. 23, 2004 murder of 23-year-old John Juarez in Pico Rivera.
Detectives said Anthony Garcia had worked before his arrest as an apprentice plumber and he filed unemployment for that position.
County jail inmates aren’t entitled to get unemployment benefits.
While investigating the murder case, Sheriff’s Homicide Sgt. Kevin Lloyd said they became aware that Garcia was getting unemployment benefits, which he estimated came to about $1600 a month.
The checks were in Garcia’s name and were sent to addresses in La Habra, Downey and Menifee.
The checks were cashed in Pico Rivera and Riverside Counties.
Homicide detectives, with the assistance of investigators from the department Major Crimes Bureau and Operations Safe Streets Bureau, investigated the case.
“Theft, drug sales, and violent crimes are an integral part of the gang culture,” Lloyd said. “We will continue to go wherever gang members and their associates commit their crimes. Our goal is to reduce violence and solve crimes and that is what we are doing. This investigation is continuing.”
Juan Garcia was arrested on suspicion of 13 counts of second degree burglary, conspiracy to commit grand theft, unemployment fraud and a gang enhancement. He is being held at the sheriff’s Norwalk station in lieu of $960,000 bail.
Jaimez was arrested on suspicion of 10 counts of second degree burglary, conspiracy, unemployment fraud, possession of methamphetamine for sales, and a gang enhancement, according to Parker. Her bail is $600,000
Limas was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grand theft, and grand theft with a gang enhancement. Her bail is $100,000.
Booking records show the two women are in custody at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood.
Detectives haven’t filed a case yet against Anthony Garcia related to the unemployment scam.
Anthony Garcia’s chest tattoo not only cracked what had been a cold case murder it also helped convict him last year. Lloyd saw a picture of the tattoo in 2008 and recognized the crime scene.
The tattoo shows a helicopter shooting a Mr. Peanut in front of a liquor store.
Juarez was shot outside Mr. Ed s Liquor on Rosemead Boulevard. Detectives said Garcia’s gang moniker is “Chopper” and the Mr. Peanut represents Juarez who was a Pico Nuevo gang member. Rival gang members insultingly refer to Pico Nuevo gangsters as “peanuts.”
This isn’t the first time that Garcia’s friends and family ran afoul of the law.
His brother, his mother and three other people were arrested last year on charges related to a scheme to smuggle drugs into county jail.
Anthony Garcia allegedly hatched the idea with his brother, John, and Rivera 13 gang member, Manuel Bermudez. Gang investigators said the smuggled drugs would be sold in the jail.
Garcia’s mother, Vivian, was charged with being an accessory after the fact for allegedly trying to harbor her son, John.
John Garcia allegedly helped put four golf ball-sized balloons containing heroin and methamphetamine into Bermudez’s rectum.
Detectives then were tipped that Bermudez would be carrying drugs when he showed up in Norwalk Superior Court on June 10, 2010.
Detective John Clark believes Bermudez was trying to meet with Anthony Garcia at the lockup and that half of the drugs were meant for him.
That case is winding its way through the courts.
– Ruby Gonzales
PHOTOS of Juan Garcia (top), Sandra Jaimez (middle) and Cynthia Lima (bottom) courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department