Woman admits role in helping murderer collect unemployment benefits while behind bars

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WHITTIER — A girlfriend of a convicted murderer has admitted her role in helping him fraudulently obtain unemployment checks while awaiting trial for a Pico Rivera gang slaying, officials said Friday.
Cynthia Limas, 25, of Menifee pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to commit grand theft Thursday in Whittier Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
She was accused of collecting more than $20,000 in state unemployment benefits for 25-year-old Pico Rivera gang member Anthony Garcia, who was awaiting trial for murder at the time of the fraud. He has since been convicted and sentenced to 65 years to life in state prison for the killing, which was solved with the help of a tattoo on his chest that depicts the murder scene.
Limas was scheduled to return to court for sentencing Oct. 19.
Also accused in the alleged scheme are the inmate’s father, Juan Leonard Garcia, 47, of Pico Rivera and another girlfriend of the convict, 45-year-old Sandra Jaimez of Downey. The two appeared in court Thursday and Friday for a preliminary hearing, in which a judge listens to a summary of the case and determined whether there is sufficient evidence to order a defendant to stand trial.
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Juan Garcia and Jaimez are both charged with conspiracy to commit grand theft. Their preliminary hearing was schedule to continue Wednesday.
Garcia also faces 13 counts of commercial burglary for cashing the unemployment checks, as well as two counts of false statement, representation or concealment.
Jaimez is charged with eight counts of commercial burglary, three counts of false statement, representation or concealment and possession of methamphetamine for sale.
Limas, Jaimez and Juan Garcia collected bi-weekly unemployment checks between Oct. 2008 and Aug. 2010 on behalf of Anthony Garcia, who was not eligible to receive the benefits because he was incarcerated in county jail awaiting trial for the Jan. 23, 2004, shooting death of rival gang member John Juarez, 23, outside a Pico Rivera liquor store, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
In addition to submitting fraudulent forms on Anthony Garcia’s behalf, officials said, Juan Garcia and others posed as the incarcerated man during phone calls to the California Employment Development Department, prosecutors said. The defendants also allegedly filed change of address forms for him twice while he was behind bars.
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The money was then deposited into the inmate accounts of Anthony Garcia and fellow gang members, Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators said.
Money was given to Anthony Garcia and other inmates as recently as May of 2011, after he had been convicted of murder and was awaiting sentencing, court documents show.
The three defendants were charged with the scheme in March after the fraud was discovered, prosecutors said.
Anthony Garcia was arrested for the 2004 gang murder in 2008, after a sheriff’s homicide detective noticed striking similarities between a tattoo on Garcia’s chest and the scene of an unsolved slaying.
The tattoo pictures a liquor store resembling the one where Juarez was fatally shot. In front of the store, a helicopter is seen shooting a peanut cartoon character. Anthony Garcia’s 
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gang nickname was “Chopper,” and the his gang, Rivera 13, refers to rival Pico Nuevo gang members as “peanuts.”
PHOTOS: (top to bottom): Cynthia Limas, Juan Garcia, Sandra Jaimez, Anthony Garcia’s tattoo — courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
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