By: Tom Duggan & Janet Aldrich
May 12, 2015
A long time ally, confidant, strategist, and campaign worker for former Lawrence Mayor and State Rep. Willie Lantigua, has been arrested and charged by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force.
The task force is a partnership between HSI and other federal, state, and local counterparts. It was created with a series of multi-agency teams, developed to target criminal organizations and beneficiaries behind fraudulent schemes.
Milagros Dominguez of Lawrence, was charged with 3 counts of violation of 42 USC, Sec 408; for using false social security numbers to receive benefits. She was arraigned in federal court Tuesday afternoon and released without bail, but with the following conditions; she cannot move, cannot change employment, must remain employed, must use her real name at all times, and cannot use any other identities or social security numbers.
A pretrial conference is set for early July.
NO STRANGER TO CONTROVERSY
In 2006 the Valley Patriot broke several stories about Dominguez using a fake identity after our sources obtained an original false drivers license. The license listed her name as ‘Dirma Espada’ next to her photo.
At the time Dominguez refused to comment, but a month later in June of 2006, she verbally attacked a Valley Patriot reporter at Semana Hispana (Hispanic Week), saying that the Valley Patriot manufactured “lies”. Our reporter snapped this photo (right) as she lashed out at him.
STILL CAUSING TROUBLE
Dominguez was also escorted out of the Valebrook Apartments by Lawrence Police last year. The incident happened on Election Day, November 04, 2014. Dominguez had been causing a raucous after voters complained that she was campaigning for Willie Lantigua inside the polling locations. Lantigua was running for State Representative against Marcos Devers. He lost that election.
Dominguez also worked for the City of Lawrence under Mayor Lantigua as an poll worker with access to voter information. She was in charge of checking voters names as they voted. Dominguez was seen not only wearing Lantigua stickers inside the polling locations, but several voters complained that she was going inside the polling booth with voters and telling them who to vote for, as well as passing out sample ballots with Lantiua’s name already checked off.
During the 2013 Lawrence mayoral race between Mayor Lantigua and (then) Councilor Dan Rivera, a recount was held. Milagros Dominguez represented the Lantigua campaign during that recount. She is seen below conferring with Lantigua during that recount.
She has also been the publisher of, and writer for several Spanish language newspapers and magazines including the publication “Latino Pride”, Siglo 21, and had worked on a publication for the Lawrence Public Schools.
In 2006, Dominguez was on the forefront of an effort to stop Northern Essex Community College from building a multi-million dollar Health and Technology Center on Common Street at the site of the old downtown mall. That effort failed.
Dominguez recently ran for office in the Dominican Republic’s national elections, seeking a spot as Deputy to serve on the Dominican Congress. The position was created so that Dominicans living in the US could represent other Dominicans who have problems with either transferring property, or may have problems dealing with sending a vehicle from the United States to the Dominican Republic. She lost that election.
LANTIGUA’S MANY EXPORT SCANDALS
Mayor Lantigua’s former Chief of Staff Lenny Degnan was convicted last year of fraud for his role in sending a garbage truck to the Dominican Republic while Lantigua was mayor. Lantigua has been under investigation by the Essex County District Attorney, the Attorney General and United States Attorney’s Offices since shortly after taking office in 2010.
Throughout that time, ambulances and other vehicles were sent from vendors doing business with the City of Lawrence to Lantigua’s home town town of Tenares as “gifts”.
Throughout the time those vehicles and other items were being sent to the Dominican Republic, Milagros Dominguez was actively involved with the Lantigua administration. Her (now) husband Santiago Mattias was hired to work in city hall by Lantigua. At the time Lantigua hired Mattias to be an inspector of weights and measures without having the proper certification. He was ordered by the city to take a class and obtain the state mandated certification to remain in the job, but Mattias never took the test and was fired by Mayor Rivera in 2014.
He and Milagros ran several programs on Spanish Language radio promoting Lantigua’s political efforts and acting as his promotions team. They are still on the radio today.
Established in April 2006, the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Document and Benefit Fraud Task Forces focus their efforts on detecting, deterring and disrupting both document and benefit fraud. Investigators from a variety of agencies with expertise in different aspects of fraud collaborate with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country to formulate a comprehensive approach in targeting the criminal organizations and the beneficiaries behind these fraudulent schemes.
Through collaboration and partnership, the task forces maximize resources, eliminate duplication of efforts, and produce a strong law enforcement presence. They combine a variety of law enforcement tools and authorities to achieve focused, high-impact criminal prosecutions and financial seizures.
Document and benefit fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety because it creates a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States. Document fraud, also known as identity fraud, is the manufacture, sale or use of counterfeit identity documents such as fake driver’s licenses, birth certificates, Social Security cards or passports for immigration fraud or other criminal activity. Benefit fraud refers to the misrepresentation or omission of facts on an application to obtain an immigration benefit one is not entitled to, such as U.S. citizenship, political asylum or a valid visa.