27 May – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Michael S. Clemens, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge, announced today that Rafael Montejo, 57, formerly of Miami, Florida was arrested by Panamanian law enforcement authorities on May 5, 2005, expelled from Panama on May 11, 2005, and returned to the United States on the same day, where was formally taken into custody to face the false claims charges contained in a eleven (11) count Indictment returned against him by a Miami federal grand jury in December 1998.
Montejo made his initial appearance before a federal Magistrate Judge on May 12, 2005, and at a hearing on May 16, 2005, Magistrate Judge Stephen Brown ordered he be held in pre-trial detention, because he posed a risk-of-flight.
Specifically, Montejo was charged with knowingly making and causing to be made, false and fraudulent claims for Federal Disaster Assistance Funds, under FEMA’s Individual and Family Grant Program (IFG Program), during 1993 and 1994. Montejo had served as an IFG Program Analyst in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, but had actually functioned as an assistant to the former program director. In that capacity, Montejo either personally, or through friends, acquaintances and family members, effected the filing of false disaster assistance applications in the names of prospective applicants, including through a toll-free number, then used his position within the IFG Program to either intercept reimbursement checks, to effectuate changes of address so that he could gain control of checks, or took possession of checks he knew would be returned to him as “undeliverable due to an address problem.” Montejo also caused individuals who received the fraudulently generated reimbursements, to release the checks or the funds received thereby directly to his possession, or caused other individuals to assist him in negotiating checks so that he could secure the funds for his personal use.
According to the Indictment, Montejo defrauded the IFG Program of approximately $48,000. Montejo fled the United States for Panama in November, 1998, during the Grand Jury’s investigation of his activities, shortly after he was subpoenaed to provide handwriting, fingerprint and palm-print exemplars. After his failure to appear, the Government moved to hold him in contempt and an arrest warrant was issued. During the time Montejo remained in Panama, from 1998 until his apprehension on May 5, 2005, the FBI’s Miami Field Office had listed Montejo as one of its most-wanted individuals and included his photograph and the charges pending against him on its Internet Web-Site.
If convicted of the charges in the Indictment, Montejo faces up to five (5) years imprisonment. United States District Judge Joan A. Lenard has set Montejo’s case for trial during the two-week trial calendar commencing June 13, 2005.
Mr. Jiménez commended the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and of Panamanian authorities, for effectuating Montejo’s arrest and returning him to the United States to face the pending charges. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jose A. Bonau.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .