Updated January 5, 2021 - 10:53 am
A former Las Vegas bank manager was sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison for stealing almost $1.2 million in benefits from the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs.
Javier Montano, 57, pleaded guilty in September to one count of theft of government funds.
In August 2015, after Montano was hired at Nevada State Bank, he learned of two accounts with “large balances and no activity,” according to court records.
One of the accounts belonged to someone who had been dead for more than 18 years at the time, but the Social Security Administration continued to pay the account. The second belonged to someone dead for more than four years at the time, whose account still received Social Security and VA payments.
Prosecutors said Montano stole money for nearly five years.
“The Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs provide a lifeline to members of society who are eligible, and provide benefits to veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country,” Nevada U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich said in a news release. “Our office and our agency partners are committed to safeguarding these programs and prosecuting those who would abuse these essential services.”
Montano ordered debit cards for both accounts and used them to withdraw cash, and he used his job to authorize a $35,000 cashier’s check, court records stated.
His lawyer, Nicholas Wooldridge, wrote in court papers that Montano had taken funds to help pay for his then-teenage son’s medical bills, and later took money for personal use.
Montano, who worked in banking for 38 years, “has led an otherwise law-abiding life and has positively influenced the lives of his children, his family, and his friends,” the attorney wrote. “The consequences of his actions in this case have caused him immeasurable personal devastation, and he will carry remorse for his actions for the rest of his life.”
Prosecutors said that the “vast majority” of money was spent on personal expenses, such as a 2013 BMW.
Along with the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey also ordered Montano to pay roughly $1.2 million in restitution to the Social Security Administration and VA.